New Street

The violin has a curious history in jazz. First heard in ragtime ensembles, it was picked up in the ’20s by men like Eddie South and Joe Venuti who brought their own unique jazz stylings to the instrument. Then in the ’30s violinist Stéphane Grappelli’s association with Django Reinhardt in the famed Quintet of the Hot Club of France fired the imagination of players like Ben Powell, a 25-year-old Englishman who began by playing classical music (and still does with the Boston Philharmonic). The QHCF influence is very much present on the uptempo “What Is This Thing Called Love,” which features Gypsy guitarist Adrien Moignard, and “Piccadilly Stomp,” a Grappelli tune that has vibist Gary Burton and guitarist Julian Lage helping Powell heat things up. Burton also stars on “Gary,” a tune Grappelli wrote for him. The trio saunters mournfully along “La Chanson des Rues,” a popular French tune favored by Grappelli. Powell’s quartet (Tadataka Unno, piano, Aaron Darrell, bass, and Devin Drobka, drums) pours its energies into a couple of his originals, one the haunting “Judith,” and an especially delightful “Monk 4 Strings” with Unno showing what he can do, which, as it turns out, is plenty! He also shines on Powell’s “Swingin’ for Stéphane.”