Violinist Mark O'Connor is one of those musicians who come along maybe once or twice in a generation. They glide effortlessly from one genre to another with complete command over every aspect of their art. O'Connor has studied under Stephane Grappelli, one of the world's greatest improvisers on the violin, yet at the same time, he has written and performed orchestral scores with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Edgar Meyer.
What we hear from him is whatever he wishes to perform on a particular tour or at any given event.
"My preference is to keep a lot of [the variety] going," said O'Connor, who appears in his final two shows Sunday at Blues Alley with his Hot Swing Trio. "As soon as something sort of falls off the calendar a bit, I start to miss it. Each of these settings allows me to perform in a way that's really inspiring for me and for everything I'm doing."
O'Connor's trio includes guitarists Frank Vignola and Julian Lage and was formed in 1998 after the death of Grappelli in 1997.
|Mark O'Connor and the Hot Swing Trio|
|Where: Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW|
|When: 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday|
|Info: $45; 202-337-4141; bluesalley.com|
"I toured with him and miss him a lot," O'Connor confessed. "And so I put a group together inspired by his music. In this group, you'll hear a combination of standards that Stephane used to play and originals that I wrote for Hot Swing."
That O'Connor keeps busy is an understatement. In addition to writing and performing his many symphonic concertos, he has formed a piano trio to perform his "Poets and Prophets" composition inspired by the music of Johnny Cash. Moreover, he continues to tour with his solo recital, a one-man unaccompanied violin work that critics have praised as a tour de force presentation.
O'Connor's repertoire is so vast and performances of his work so ubiquitous, he feels that, over time, audiences will take their own journeys with his music in ways he'll never know.
"Music is a very powerful thing," he said. "It's transformational; it moves mountains."