Reverence: A Tribute to Stephane Grappelli and Oscar Peterson
“Jason Anick is easily one of the best jazz violinists of his generation.” – Christian Howes
“Equally gifted as a musician and composer” – Regina Carter
“Matt DeChamplain is an amazing study in advanced piano styles with a major contribution to the ‘Stride’ style and more contemporary jazz.” – Donn Trenner
There have been many tribute albums dedicated to jazz violin pioneer Stephane Grappelli, as well as to the brilliant piano virtuoso Oscar Peterson. With Reverence: A Tribute to Stephane Grappelli and Oscar Peterson (Magic Fiddle Music), violinist Jason Anick and pianist Matt DeChamplain team up to recreate the chemistry between these two jazz titans who performed together in the 1970s. Crisp arrangements combined with the spontaneity of a live studio recording bring out the best from Anick and DeChamplain, whose own virtuosity and empathic playing imbue each tune with just the right measure of excitement, humor, joy, or poignancy. Archtop guitarist Matt Munisteri and bassist Eduardo Belo round out the rhythm section with equal finesse. The result is a soul-satisfying collection which captures the spirit of the Grappelli-Peterson collaboration while highlighting the tasteful interplay and fertile imaginations of two contemporary interpreters with distinctive voices of their own.
Jason Anick had been playing violin for about four years when his dad brought him to see Stephane Grappelli, who was still playing fluidly at 88 years old. Meeting him backstage after the concert, 11-year-old Anick had no idea then how large a role the seminal jazz violinist would later play in his own professional development. Ironically, Anick initially resisted imitating other jazz violinists, fearing it might hamper the development of his own voice on the instrument. “But as I grew as a violinist and overall musician, my appreciation just continued to grow and I realized I could learn so much from Grappelli while still maintaining my own voice.”
Matt DeChamplain recalls the first time he heard Oscar Peterson on a recording shared by his high school piano teacher. “What I heard transcended technique. It was magic. I couldn’t stop listening.” He set his sights on sounding as much like Peterson as possible “until I realized that in jazz, you want to sound like yourself. It made me want to go and check out the whole history of jazz, from Fats Waller and Art Tatum to more modern pianists. But I still keep going back to Oscar.”
Anick and DeChamplain discovered each other at a jazz jam while both were students at the University of Hartford’s Hartt conservatory. They quickly became friends and collaborators, gigging frequently together before and after graduation. Both are now professors at music schools themselves, Anick at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and DeChamplain at their alma mater Hartt. “For years we had been talking about wanting to do a joint tribute to Oscar Peterson and Stephane Grappelli,” Anick recalls. “But we hesitated, wanting to establish our own voices first before coming back to it. As soon as you call it ‘a tribute to Peterson and Grappelli,’ you’re going to be compared to them, and that’s a challenge because they are two of the greatest jazz musicians ever. At the same time, you have to be unique, not just copying them.”
They titled their tribute “Reverence” to convey their deep respect for the two artists. “We felt it was time to share that respect, to recreate the magic that they created together, but with our own personal stamp. They had a deep love of the music and loved to share the positivity, the energy, the excitement, not just their virtuosity.” These qualities guided the choice of songs for the album, which run the gamut from pensive ballads to rollicking swing. Anick’s playful composition “Milo’s Bounce” celebrates the joys of fatherhood: “chasing a little one around, watching him crawl and then run and then bounce off of things.” DeChamplain’s lyrical contribution “The Incomparable Mr. Trenner” pays an affectionate homage to one of his mentors. The Peterson-penned “Noreen’s Nocturne” captures the pianist’s exuberant swing, while Grappelli’s rapid-fire “Denise” reminds us that Django’s hot jazz foil also embraced the new vocabulary of bebop.
Beyond the variety of textures and moods expressed in the tune choices, Anick and DeChamplain’s arrangements were crafted to appeal not only to jazz aficionados but to the public in general. “You can throw on the Peterson/Grappelli records and do a deep-dive listen as a musician. But you can also have it in the background and fit many occasions, to create an atmosphere. Which speaks to the genius of artists who are revered, because they knew how to balance art and entertainment.” Reverence succeeds anew in achieving such a balance with its deep but accessible salute to two of the most influential figures in the history of jazz.
Jason Anick has made a name for himself as an improviser and composer across many genres. Recruited by Grammy award-winning Nashville guitar virtuoso John Jorgenson while still a senior at Hartt Conservatory, he quickly established a reputation as a fresh and nimble voice within Gypsy Jazz and World Music. His own Rhythm Future Quartet has continued to push the boundaries of the acoustic string band format. His forays into contemporary straight-ahead jazz include the highly acclaimed albums Tipping Point (2014) and United (2017). Anick’s performances have taken him all over the world to China, Europe, Russia, and Japan and renowned venues like the Montreal Jazz Festival, Blue Note, Smalls Jazz Club, Scullers Jazz Club, Yoshi’s, Iridium, TD Garden, Regattabar, NPR, and The Late Night Show in NYC.
Matt DeChamplain has performed at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, Berks Jazz Festival, New York’s JVC Jazz Festival, the Berklee Jazz Festival, the Kennedy Center, Jazz at Lincoln Center and renowned jazz clubs such as the Regatta Bar, Smalls and Yoshi’s. In 2008, Matt was selected for the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Program where he engaged in a two week intensive composition and performance workshop under the instruction of jazz luminaries Dr. Billy Taylor, Nathan Davis and Curtis Fuller culminating in three performances filmed live from the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. That same year he was part of a group lead by bassist Nat Reeves that toured New Ross, Ireland. In 2010, Matt participated as a semifinalist in the Martial Solal Jazz Piano Competition in Paris, France.
Jason Anick and Matt DeChamplain
Reverence: A Tribute to Stephane Grappelli and Oscar Peterson
Record Label: Magic Fiddle Music
Jason Anick – Violin
Matt DeChamplain – Piano
Matt Munisteri – Guitar
Eduardo Belo – Bass
Recorded at Tapeworks in Hartford, CT on February 2nd, 2023
Engineered by Bill Ahern
Mixed by Mark Goodell
Mastered by Dave Darlington