Album Review of
The Sphynx

Written by Joe Ross
February 22, 2020 - 11:52pm EST
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Seattle-based violinist/vocalist/bandleader Jonathan Ng follows up his debut EP “Dreaming on My Feet” with his second EP entitled “The Sphynx.” Opening with the upbeat and original title cut “The Sphynx,” Ng and his bandmates establish a solid Gypsy jazz groove.  The album’s other five offerings (Maelstrom, Rockhouse Pt. 1 & 2, Gin Mill Special, Embryo, Stardust) then recreate a pleasant, cohesive repertoire similar to one might hear from a small swing group in the 1930s or 40s. Ng chose these songs to pay tribute to the swing music and bandleaders of the past. A classically trained violinist, Ng demonstrates considerable tone, technique and intonation in his playing. Besides Jonathan Ng on violin, we’re treated to the lyrical playing of Albert Alva (tenor sax), Luca Pino (guitar), Chris Dawson (piano), Seth Ford-Young (bass) and Josh Collazo (drums). Ng’s arrangements are thoughtful, with just enough saucy independence to recreate a beautiful afternoon at a Parisian café. Take an old standard like “Stardust,” for example. Ng’s violin, Pino’s guitar and Dawson’s piano converse to maximum effect. One doesn’t need a full jazz orchestra with brass to effectively reinterpret Chu Berry’s “Maelstrom.”  I especially enjoyed their renditions of Illinois Jacquet’s “Embryo” and Erskine Hawkins’ “Gin Mill Special” that got the melodies swinging and singing as my toes were tapping. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)