SUSAN JONES AND SETH KIBEL "Nuts and Bolts" Independent
Friday, September 10, 2004; Page WE07
"Nuts and Bolts" derives its distinctive sound and considerable charm from strings and woodwinds -- primarily Susan Jones's violin and Seth Kibel's tenor sax and clarinet. Oh, and another thing: a cultural potpourri of influences that include, as Kibel puts it in his liner notes, "Charlie Parker, Stephane Grappelli, Joe Henderson and all of the ancient Jews and Cubans whose souls sing to me and help me create."
Those souls often sing softly and hauntingly here. On "Corcoran Blues," violin and tenor quietly evoke images of Grappelli collaborating with a like-minded jazz elder on tenor -- say, breathy-toned Ben Webster. The ancient Spanish Ladino tune "Los Bilbilicos" receives a chamber jazz makeover, via a fresh arrangement devised by Jones that features Kibel's expressive clarinet and Paul Wingo's fluid guitar work. "Klezmer Nova," which alludes to the bandleaders' shared background in klezmer music, may sound like a stab at a cross-cultural novelty. Yet the performance achieves an eloquent and bittersweet melding of styles, thanks to Jones, Kibel (again on clarinet), Wingo and bassist James King. "Olmstead Cha Cha," on the other hand, offers a sharp contrast; it begins and ends as a high-pitched rhapsody. But this version of the ensemble, which includes pianist James Levy and bassist Bob Abbott, deftly temper the mood along the way.
Finally, there's "Lester Leaps Out," an insouciant, Lester Young-inspired, Grappelli-tinted coda that makes delightful use of the nuts and bolts of swing.
-- Mike Joyce