Fair Weather

Fair Weather

4.0 1
by Alison Brown
     
 

Alison Brown is known for mixing jazz and tropical flavors into her bluegrass, but on FAIR WEATHER, the banjo star reflects on the music of her youth. Not to worry -- this is no staid return to tradition. FAIR WEATHER's 12 tracks offer too many surprises and innovations. Inspired covers of Elvis Costello and See more details below

Overview

Alison Brown is known for mixing jazz and tropical flavors into her bluegrass, but on FAIR WEATHER, the banjo star reflects on the music of her youth. Not to worry -- this is no staid return to tradition. FAIR WEATHER's 12 tracks offer too many surprises and innovations. Inspired covers of Elvis Costello and Harry Nilsson, as well as several choice Brown originals, keep the repertoire fresh and the players loose. The picker does pay tribute to the father of bluegrass banjo, Earl Scruggs, with her original "Girl's Breakdown." Flashing impressive Scruggs-style licks, Brown is joined by bluegrass luminaries Sam Bush on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on dobro, and Stuart Duncan on fiddle. Country superstar Vince Gill, who kicked off his career in the same West Coast bluegrass scene as Brown and Duncan, guests on "Fair Weather," a lifting piece of music written by another California 'grasser, the late Steve Libbea. Brown recruited other bluegrass standouts for this pickin' party: Claire Lynch adds a moving vocal to "Hummingbird," and David Grier, Matt Flinner, and Todd Phillips rip through the Appalachian tribute "Deep Gap." The disc's climax comes with "Leaving Cottondale," a speedy banjo duel between Alison and New Grass pioneer Bela Fleck. Together, the cuts make for a fun and sunny session with Brown's banjo providing a shining stream of notes throughout. --Kerry Dexter

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Rick Anderson
Banjo virtuoso Alison Brown, whose primary group is a jazz quartet, returns to her bluegrass roots on this beautiful and exhilarating album. Well, sort of. The instrumental format is certainly bluegrass, given guest artists like Stuart Duncan and Darol Anger on fiddles, guitarists Mike Marshall and Tony Rice, and mandolinist Sam Bush, and with Brown's fiery five-string picking front and center. But much of this is bluegrass music of a type that Bill Monroe might not recognize; while "Late on Arrival" is a good old-fashioned Scruggs-style banjo showcase and "Fair Weather" a modern bluegrass song with all the standard accouterments, the twin mandolins and easy-swinging rhythm of "Poe's Pickin' Party" sound kind of like an old-time string band playing turn-of-the-century salon music. And then there are the cover tunes, which include a gently winning rendition of the old Elvis Costello hit "Everyday I Write the Book." The album's most thrilling moments come on the complex and exhilarating "Leaving Cottondale," which is both one of the prettiest and one of the most technically impressive of Brown's compositions. Here she's joined by fellow banjo maverick Bela Fleck for one of the most jaw-dropping passages of twin-banjo counterpoint ever put on tape. Call it bluegrass, call it newgrass, call it jazzgrass, whatever. This is one of the best albums of 2000 in any genre.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/09/2000
Label:
Compass Records
UPC:
0766397429229
catalogNumber:
974292
Rank:
96377

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