Interesting question, curious as to what prompted it?
Violin has been arguably the most prominently feature instrument in classical for hundreds of years, often getting the main melody in orchestral pieces and starring in quartets and other small pieces. OTOH, jazz violin is pretty rare. Of course Stefan Grappelli and a few others are amazing talents, but the repertoire is limited, inclusion in top jazz bands is few & far between. In fact I would argue that if you listed the top 100 most important jazz musicians none would be violinists. Grappelli and Ponty might be the only two in the conversation. Cheers,
For myself, it's not the instrument the music is played on, but the music itself. There is no such instrument as a Classical violin, or a Jazz one. The difference is in the music itself, so whichever music one prefers is the determining factor. Classical is mostly formal, "written" music (a Classical violinist plays the notes the composer wrote, not those of the violinists' choosing), Jazz is to a large degree improvised (the violinist plays notes of his own choosing, based on the chord structure of the song). Very different musics.
I like them both! My first attachments to classical violin were of massed sections...what glorious harbingers of melodic line they are. Nearing twenty, I discovered it was a main-instrument fascination of mine when I was turned on to Jean-Luc Ponty in the late 70’s...couldn’t get enough of that sound for at least a couple decades! Now I’ve come full circle enough to go back to classical soloists like: Giuliano Carmignola, Isaac Stern, Heifetz, Perlman, Fabio Bondi and more. But, also including violin artists from other genres like: Alison Krauss, The Dixie Dreggs and more.
Hi Schubert, Regina Carter was given the opportunity to perform with Paganini's Guarneri, (out of th vault) then subsequently offered to do an album with it, which became "Paganini after a dream". I read that a couple of classical men complained that they should had been the one given the chance, "why a jazz girl from Detroit than me"? "Continue polishing your fingernails, guys....."
Agree with Spencer’s perspective. Instruments with far more overlap between Jazz and Classical music are piano, guitar, trumpet and double bass for example. More of a fair/relevant comparison of two great music genres and their respectively superb musicians .I have immense admiration and appreciation for both genres but I listen to jazz more often.
Out of all the jazz violinists "Ray Nance" is my favorite; unfortunately, his best is not on "youtube".
The most individualistic is "Billy Bangs"; he was a tunnel rat in "Nam".
Jean Luc Ponty is best known for his fusion, which is fantastic;
Regina Carter is another jazz violinist I enjoy a lot;
I really don’t like the way violin lends itself to the type of jazz I enjoy the most, which is swing, bop, hard bop, soul jazz, and free jazz. None of the classic jazz ensembles of the 50s and 60s every really incorporated violin into their sessions to any large degree. I’m not even sure there is a BlueNote album prominently featuring a violin but I could be wrong. Maybe Nigel Kennedy tried this? Even an album like Mingus’ ambitious orchestration "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" didn’t feature a violin to my knowledge. I just don’t think of jazz and violin unless it’s the early stuff like Grapelli with Django or more fusion stuff like Ponty. Nothing falls into the sub-genres of jazz genre I like but that’s just me.
I hesitate to post this, as it may make me appear to be self-aggrandizing, but I've been drinking bourbon all day, so what the hell. I did a gig (at The Continental Club in L.A.) in the late 90’s with violinist Don "Sugarcane" Harris (the Don of Specialty Records’ Don & Dewey, and a member of Frank Zappa’s band in the 70’s and 80’s), and he was a real trip. Stoned out-of-his mind, he nonetheless played superbly. Took him quite a while to get his electric violin plugged in to his Fender Dual Showman amp, however ;-) . Rest in peace, brother.
Adley, in your question is the suggestion that, not only do you like the violin, you like both Classical and Jazz. Good for you! There is a tremendous amount of wonderful music in both genres. As has been pointed out the violin typically features far more prominently in Classical music than in Jazz, but there are and have been some very good Jazz players on the instrument. A great “rule” to follow as a good (always growing) music listener is to remember that it is not the type of instrument that matters; it’s what you do with it. The instrument is just the means to an end. Who would have thought the harmonica would make a credible bebop instrument? Toots Thielemans anyone? Or the accordion? Art Van Damme or Leo Sash? Welcome to Audiogon and we look forward to your posts!
****I’m not even sure there is a BlueNote album prominently featuring a violin but I could be wrong.****
Some (me) might argue how much of this record is actually “Jazz”, but...
Getting back to OP’s question .
The genres themselves both have many great music pieces of music more or less equal as music itself . I got hip to that listening to great German symphony orchestra’s playing things like "Stardust" and other jewels from the Great American Songbook .
But classical has one thing that jazz has not , its roots are in Christian religious music which was not for the music alone but for the praise of God and edification of the listener .There is no equivalent in any kind of music of a Bach Cantata or Passion and as it is sung there is no doubt about what the music is doing and why its doing it . Or in the the great masterworks of a religious bent of a thousand composers from the 12th century to this one .
.If you are not religious you can enjoy the music as music alone . if you are religious you will likely do that and the level it was aimed at as well .Even with jazz pieces I would consider profoundly religious like Coltrane’s
"A Love Supreme ", you would not pick that up from the music itself .
Classical Music is the greatest artistic triumph of the Western World . .
I’m new to this site, so bear with me. Appears can’t add pic of album cover.
So, have you heard guitarist Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelly (how spelled on album) with The Quintet of the Hot Club of France. From 1934+, I believe style called Gypsy Jazz. My CD titled "Souvenirs" from London records. Multi CD collection also available.
Classic Jazz!! Now the recordings are old and mikes were poor then. But the Jazz jumps!!!
AdleyI agree with bdp24 that it's the music , not the instrument. Which for my taste would be jazz violin. Although the violin has not had a lot of players in jazz there have been some excellent musicians. The group String Trio of New York had violin players Billy Bang, Regina Carter, Charles Burnham & Rob Thomas in the group at various times.http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z7m6KYWDO4c
Jean Luc Ponty early in his career was in groups that played straight ahead jazz.
Mark Feldman is a jazz violinist who played frequently with John Abercrombie as well as his own solo projects.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sp8SNDN3Rt4
I listen to more classical violin than jazz violin, but it's a stacked deck--there are so many more classical violinists to choose from and only a handful of jazzers. Still, I regard Stephane Grapelli as an important player of his time and Jean-Luc Ponty's "Aurora" is one of my favorite fusion LP's. I also enjoyed his stints with Mahavishnu Orch. #2 and the 1973 edition of the Frank Zappa Band. Anyway, you'd be hard-pressed to name a dozen jazz violinists from the last 100 years without assistance, whereas the 20th century produced a bushel of great classical violinists.
Great post from @schubert, as always. J.S. Bach's music is particularly profound, and was written to glorify God, not Bach or the performers of his music. I was introduced to his music in the early 70's by a college music major musician I had played in a band with in High School, but really got into him and the other Baroque composers when the Original Instrument movement took off. Hearing the violin and other string instruments' notes played without excessive Romantic-era vibrato is such a joy!
I also love Bluegrass fiddle, and find a lot of similarities between that music and Baroque-era Classical. A theme is played, followed by a variation on it. Lots of harmony and counterpoint, which I love. And the bass parts in both musics employ the use of inversions (the notes played by the bass are not the root of the chord, but rather another note in the chord), one of my favorite musical sounds. James Jamerson, bass player on most of the 60's and early 70's Motown recordings, used that technique a lot (give a listen to "What becomes Of The Broken Hearted"), as did Brian Wilson in his Beach Boys recordings starting in 1964.
Jerry Goodman from the first and Jean Luc Ponty from the second Mahavishnu Orchestra jazzrock group were excellent. I generally prefer the former but not by much, Jerry's violin is more wild and Jean Luc's more aristocratic. Both played electric violin, or mostly electric.
Of the classical musicians I only listen to Paganini, don't ask me how, the rest are ridiculous by comparison.
Jerry worked well for Mahavishnu 1 but I don't think of him as a jazz musician--more a rocker who was able to fit into the M. Orch. fusion scheme. J-LP was already a jazz player with modern leanings when he played with McLaughlin. If you look at what each guy did before and after their stint with John Mc I think you'll see what I mean.
For me the notable jazz violinists are Stuff Smith, Stephane Grappelli, Joe Venuti and Jean-Luc Ponty. Honorable mentions to "jazzy" players such as Sid Paige (Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks), Vassar Clements (a very bluesy/jazzy bluegrass fiddler) and Johnny Gimble (Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. ah-HA!)
Frog, I can't play like Paganini but maybe I can 'think' like Paganini so I make contact and that's how I 'listen' to him.
Both Goodman's and Ponty's best years were with McLaughlin. John was a true leader, just like Miles. I do like some Ponty's performances outside Mahavishnu, though. Grappelli okay with me. One could also mention Subramanian.