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Jason Anick – What’s on Your Playlist?

Jazzed Magazine • October 2016What's on Your Playlist? • October 19, 2016

annick-slideOne of the youngest instructors at Berklee College of Music, Jason Anick is rapidly making a name for himself in the world of jazz violin and mandolin. He’s also an ace composer. As the Boston Globe noted: “Jason’s compositional voice is as distinctive as his virtuoso playing.” In addition to leading his own contemporary jazz ensemble and performing with his preeminent Gypsy jazz group the Rhythm Future Quartet, Anick has been touring and recording with Grammy award-winning Nashville guitar virtuoso John Jorgenson since 2008 when he was recruited while still a senior at Hartt Conservatory.

A versatile musician and sought-after sideman, Anick has also shared the stage with an array of artists like Stevie Wonder, John Sebastian, The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, Tommy Emmanuel, Delta Rae, and Girls, Guns and Glory. Anick has released two highly acclaimed albums as a leader, Tipping Point (2014) and Sleepless (2010) and two with the Rhythm Future Quartet including 2016’s Travels, which features scintillating original compositions, dazzling improvisation and one-mind ensemble playing.

Jason’s also a sought-after educator teaching violin and mandolin to students of all ages at string camps, workshops, and clinics around the world.

1. Biréli Lagrène – Gipsy Project and Friends 

This album is the gold standard for contemporary Gypsy Jazz. Recorded back in 2002, it brought new life to the genre that was first pioneered back in Paris in the 1930’s by guitar virtuoso Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelli. Guitarist Lagrène and violinist Florin Niculescu really shine on this album, pushing each other to be at the top of their game both musically and creatively. 

2. Jean-Luc Ponty – Live at Cheney Park

This was the first jazz violin album that I listened to obsessively. In fact, Jean-Luc’s solo on “Between Sea and Sky” was the very first jazz violin solo I transcribed. It’s a great example of his playing and composing style and I have all my violin students at Berklee transcribe “Between Sea and Sky” just as I did years before. 

3. Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt – Sonny Side Up

The playing is exquisite throughout this album. The second cut, “Eternal Triangle,” is a never-ending well of great licks and phrases over the classic “rhythm changes” chord progression. I equate listening to it with taking a private lesson with sax greats Rollins and Stitt. 

4. James Farm – James Farm

This was the debut album from a supergroup comprised of Joshua Redman, Aaron Parks, Matt Penman, and Eric Harland. I love the compositions on this album and studied them a lot back when I was working on my own contemporary jazz album, Tipping Point.

5. Christian Howes and Billy Contreras – Jazz Fiddle Revolution

Released back in 2004, this album was a game changer in the world of jazz violin. Comprised of mostly duos, the record features violinists Howes and Contreras exploring new harmonic territory and pushing the boundaries of the instrument. 

6. Red Garland – Red Garland’s Piano

Red’s playing is extremely musical throughout this album. His gentle touch, lush chord voicings, and laid back feel make this my go-to when I want to relax or need something to lull me to sleep. 

7. Charlie Parker – Greatest Hits

When I was 15 years old and getting more into improvising, I borrowed this album from my brother who had received it as a gift from his old sax teacher. I instantly fell in love with Parker’s phrasing, energy, and swing feel and set out on a journey to replicate his approach on the violin. For over a year, this was the only album I listened to until I eventually could play/sing along to all of Parker’s solos. 

8. Julian Lage – Arclight 

Since its release this past February, I have been listening to this non-stop. Julian plays with such restraint and musicality and it’s just a great listen from start to finish. 

9. Hank Mobley – Soul Station

There is something magical about this album. The playing is superb across the board and the chemistry between the musicians is palpable. I will never grow tired of listening to Soul Station!

10. Didier Lockwood – Tribute to Stephane Grappelli 

As a jazz violinist, I was naturally drawn to Didier Lockwood’s unique approach to the instrument. His playing is in rare form on this album, both inventive and harmonically complex while still capturing the light touch and essence of the late Grappelli. 

Rhythm Future Quartet’s most recent album, Travels, was released on February 26, 2016.

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