Quartet San Francisco, founded in 2001 by the noted jazz and classical violinist Jeremy Cohen, has received two Grammy nominations for this album, their dazzling recording of tango and Latin arrangements for string quartet—Best Classical Crossover CD and Best Engineered Classical CD. The disc was recorded by veteran engineer Leslie Ann Jones at Skywalker Ranch, Nicasio, CA, and released on ViolinJazz Recordings.
The quartet’s personnel, in addition to Cohen, includes founding members Emily Onderdonk (viola) and Joel Cohen (cello). Violinist Kayo Miki joined the group in 2004. Percussionist John Santos made invaluable contributions of rhythm and color to the Látigo sessions.
“Quartet San Francisco is incredibly excited and honored to receive these nominations from the Grammy community,” says Jeremy Cohen. “This CD was inspired by our experiences traveling to Buenos Aires and playing for audiences there. Breaking stereotypes about string music has been a real motivation for this ensemble, and we’re gratified that our audiences are right there with us—and growing.”
Though Quartet San Francisco has regularly performed a wide range of material—Beethoven to Brubeck, Mozart to Mingus—Jeremy Cohen cultivates a special long-standing devotion to tango. For two years he played with the theatrical revue Forever Tango during its oft-extended San Francisco run (1995-1997). In 2004, Quartet San Francisco was among 30 competitors participating in the New York City International Tango Competition, sponsored by the Argentine Consulate. The quartet won both the Special Prize and the Grand Prize, which awarded them five performances in Buenos Aires and New York in the 2004-2005 season.
Látigo takes its title (Spanish for “whip”) from the term describing a performance technique used in tango—a quick slide or glissando of a left-hand finger on a stringed instrument for the purpose of simulating the sound of a whip.
Jeremy Cohen spent nine years as a faculty member at the Henry Mancini Institute (Los Angeles), and six years at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. He’s been on faculty at the Jazzschool (Berkeley) since 2004. Cohen has recorded two CDs of jazz standards with his ViolinJazz quartet and in 2005 released a DVD tribute to jazz violin great Joe Venuti. Cohen’s orchestral arrangements have been featured by the San Jose and San Francisco Chamber Orchestra and the Reading (PA) Philharmonic, among others. The 2006-2007 San Francisco Symphony season includes two arrangements by Cohen.