There are good reasons the violin plays so large a role in so many of the world’s musical traditions, starting with the vocality of its timbre and the humanness of its inflection, and ranging from its transcendent held notes to the prick of its pizzicato. Many jazz violinists have mastered some of these capabilities, but only a handful have shown a command of them all – let alone the ability to swing convincingly on the instrument. Brock has all that, and more: his solos have direction and spirit, and they open a window to an ordered but creative musical intelligence.
Violinists always have been marginalized in jazz, notwithstanding the silken beauty of Stephane Grappelli’s work and the historic contributions of Joe Venuti, Eddie South, Ray Nance and others. For this reason, and others, we should give thanks for the deepening contributions of Brock, whose every phrase argues for the instrument’s value in 21st century jazz. Though Brock commands plenty of technique and a vibrantly attractive sound, it’s the substance of his musical ideas that commands the most attention.