Canadian-American violinist Aline Homzy is steeped in the jazz tradition, but not tied to the standards. We caught up with her about the first single from her debut album, Éclipse, a jazzy instrumental tune called “Starring Space” with her group Aline’s Étoile Magique. The album is slated for release on August 25 on Elastic Recordings.
“’Starring Space’ provides opportunity for musical conversation-like settings with the rest of the ensemble,” Homzy says. “The song explores an array of folkloric musics enmeshed with a jazz-rooted process of improvisation. It seeks to embrace the nostalgia of a given moment or narrative while inviting the listener to imagine the mysterious worlds beyond the Earth and within each of us.”
She continues, “The rhythmic feeling of the song draws heavily from Western Africa and Reunion Island, a subtle blending of 2 and 3 beats to create a profound expression of joy, mixed with the nuance of melancholy. The folkloric nature of the violin’s sound is reflected here as well, weaving in and out of intricate lines as well as through group improvisations.”
Joining her on the album are vibraphonist Michael Davidson (Joe Chambers), guitarist Thom Gill (Knower), Dan Fortin (Bernice) on bass, and Marito Marques (Ivan Lins) on drums, with special guests João Frade on accordion and vocalist Felicity Williams. All 11 tracks on the album are originals, save for Charlie Parker’s “Segment,” which receives a spacey studio treatment that it fits right in with the rest of the album.
The song’s title, says Homzy, “Seeks to harmonize two of the main themes of this album. The first being a complete and all-encompassing awe of the breadth and possibility of space, followed by the experience of the listener as they are encouraged to come along for an uplifting journey, a celebration of improvisation and folkloric rhythmic dialogues. It’s as if each listener is presented with an opportunity to find their own little stars of memory, and the space to paint the night sky with each one as they see fit.”
Homzy has studied with violinist Sara Caswell, among others, and takes inspiration from the virtuosity of violinists like Jean-Luc Ponty and Regina Carter. “I’ve certainly learned from the great violinists of the genre, like Stéphane Grappelli,” she says. “But it’s important to me to use the tradition as a foundation while shining a more contemporary light on the instrument and its capabilities.”
Homzy’s music has been performed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, in addition to other artists and groups. She was the recipient of a 2018 TD Discovery Projects Award that saw her curate a sold-out concert featuring female improvisers at the Canadian Music Centre. Homzy has performed at the TD International Toronto Jazz Festival, Festival international de Jazz de Montréal, Stockholm International Jazz Festival, and Daigu, South Korea, International Jazz Festival.