“Call it Black Violin.” That’s the answer you will most likely get if you ask Will-B and Kevin Marcus of Black Violin to describe which musical genre best describes their unique sound. The South Florida group, a product of Dillard High School for the Performing Arts, is named for the great jazz violinist Stuff Smith’s last studio recording, the most inspiring music the young players had ever encountered. Although the building blocks of the group’s sound are classical and hip-hop, Smith’s influence is evident as the group laces funk, bebop, folk, and hard rock into their eclectic mix. In no small regard, Black Violin delivers a 500-year musical history lesson in the span of an hour-long concert.
“We’re like Afrika Bambaataa or the birth of punk rock,” Will-B has said, although those particular comparisons are only accurate in describing the freshness of his group’s sound. Pioneers in hip-hop and punk prided themselves on their ability to create raw, sometimes shocking music. When Black Violin soups up Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto with electronic beats, the only thing shocking is the polish.
Black Violin won Showtime at the Apollo in 2005. The group’s subsequent accomplishments include high-profile placement in CSI: NY and a special appearance on the kids’ show Angelina Ballerina. – Chris Davis