CD Review: Quartet San Francisco—'Five by Four'
Chamber ensemble serves up the Beatles and more
The violinist, arranger, and ensemble leader Jeremy Cohen is no stranger to rock—he’s recorded with such rock and pop greats as Carlos Santana, Linda Ronstadt, and Aaron Neville. He recently collaborated with Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and the Marin Symphony at the recent First Fusion concert, which featured QSF playing Cohen’s arrangement of the Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.”
These days, his 10-year-old quartet also features violinist Alisa Rose (from the Real Vocal String Quartet), violist Keith Lawrence, and cellist Michelle Djokic.
'Five by Four' is available through Violinjazz.
On this all-too-brief, just 20-minute follow-up to the QSF’s 2009’s double Grammy-nominated disc QSF Plays Brubeck, Cohen and company turn their talent to three Beatles tunes: “Oh Darling,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Martha My Dear”—all penned by Paul McCartney, and melodically and harmonically rich.
The result often is endearing, especially on the latter tune, written by McCartney as an ode to his old English sheepdog, Martha (with allusions to his then-fiancée Jane Asher).
The disc kicks off with the Gypsy jazz classic “Tchavolo Swing,” by Dorado Schmitt, a spry tune with a soaring solo and plenty of twisting, turning rhythms. It’s played to perfection—Cohen is born to swing.
The closing track, “Tango Toscana,” is a Cohen original and a showcase for his prodigious command of the idiom—he played for two years with the hit musical Forever Tango and has written and arranged tangos for his own label as well as the Strings Charts editions.