Cincinnati CityBeat [February 2010]

Cincinnati CityBeat [February 2010]

Joe Deninzon Jazz Trio * Feb. 18 • Blue Wisp Jazz Club

By Brian Baker

A quick glance at Joe Deninzon’s MySpace page reveals a roster of influences that reads like the index for The Encyclopedia of Rock: Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Yes and The Police are all there.

Given that Deninzon’s main axe is a violin (whether it be acoustic, electric or fretted seven-string) and his primary musical thrusts are Prog and Jazz, it’s not unusual to find a few brothers of the bow (Jean Luc Ponty, Didier Lockwood, Stephane Grappelli) or bands that feature them (Dave Matthews, Mahavishnu Orchestra). But when you find Igor Stravinsky, Steve Vai and the Screaming Headless Torsos in the same list, you might be forced to make connections you never thought possible. A quick listen to Joe Deninzon’s music will do pretty much the same thing.

With his astonishing band Stratospheerius, the Russian-born Deninzon easily references all of the aforementioned and then some. His lightning fast runs seem less informed by his violin influences and more by his guitar heroes; the speed fingering of Vai, the delicate power of McLaughlin, the blazing invention of Zappa, the thundering bow mastery of Page.

But when Deninzon dials it way back, he’s a Jazz violinist of the first order and yet retains the skills and the mindset that make Stratospheerius a formidable Prog experience. With his Jazz Trio — bassist Bob Bowen, guitarist Steve Benson and drummer Lucianna Padmore — Deninzon has crafted a brand new album, Exuberance, which floats and flutters in the Stephane Grappelli style while offering a set list that seems like the textbook definition of sonic schizophrenia.

On Exuberance, Deninzon and the Trio tackle the music of Steely Dan, Django Reinhardt, Radiohead, Frederick Chopin and Alice in Chains — as well as a few excellent originals — as the violinist arranges each with virtuosic flair and puts his indelible stamp on every track.

Regardless of the direction he decides to twist the volume knob, rest assured that Deninzon reshapes musical boundaries with the freewheeling abandon of a New World mapmaker.

(Get show and club details here.)