Jazz violinists have not been the most numerous of improvisational musicians. String quartets have been even more rare, making the appearance of Richard Greene's ensemble at the Vine St. Bar & Grill on Sunday especially interesting.
Greene's reputation has been established on the crossover fringes of jazz/rock and pop music, with stints ranging from Jim Kweskin's Jug Band to the group Seatrain. His current group, however, is a traditional string quartet with Margaret Wooten on violin, James (Jimbo) Ross on viola and Melissa Hasin on cello.
Unlike the Kronos Quartet, which brings a hard-edged, meticulously precise classical phrasing to its interpretations of Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans, the Greene quartet played with a loose and easy momentum that sometimes achieved a real jazz feeling.
"Goodbye, Pork-Pie Hat," Charles Mingus' paean to Lester Young, was the best example, in part because of the passionate performance of the melody, but mostly as a result of Ross' driving improvisation, in which he scatted along with his bowed melody.