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|Tony Trischka||Primary Artist, Banjo, Pedal Steel Guitar, Slide Banjo|
|Loudon Wainwright III||Vocals|
|Laurel Massé||Background Vocals|
|Rolf Sturm||Guitar, Vocals|
|Claire Daly||Baritone Saxophone|
|Bob Bowen||Electric Bass, Acoustic Bass|
|Scott Neumann||Percussion, Drums|
|Michael Amendola||Flute, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone|
|Tony Trischka||Composer, Liner Notes|
|Cookie Marenco||Producer, Engineer|
|Michael Amendola||Arranger, Composer|
Posted October 1, 2010
The first thing about this CD is that it is not a "bluegrass" project. The only real connection to bluegrass is Tony Trischka on the banjo. Tony has 15 albums released with Rounder records and was a main influence and teacher for Bela Fleck. To properly characterize the music some band names must be used. Weather Report, The Yellowjackets, Spyro Gyra, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Tower Of Power, etc. are the best examples I could find of the flavor of the music contained on this CD. Tony stretches the boundaries of typical banjo into almost unrecognizable sounds at times. The band is wonderful and highly skilled and would most likely be better live than on a studio recording. Those familiar with Phish, The Grateful Dead, etc. would appreciate the extended jams I'm sure are part of the live show. 1. Earls Breakdown - Interesting sort of bluegrass flavor only with a driving walking upright bass and solid drums. Starts out fairly recognizable as a bluegrass type of a song with sax playing the lead, and quickly becomes a straight ahead jazz jam. Later on we get some stops and a different, maybe cowboy jazz flavor with a tambourine. The song floats in and out of the main theme which is loosely based on an Earl Scruggs tune. 2. 44 - Starts out with a slide banjo southern blues riff and drops into a straight ahead blues shuffle. David Johansen provides lead vocals giving the song the flavor of typical southern blues shuffles. Nice although typical instrumental breaks. Little snippets of Steely Dan harmonies and some Allman Brothers Band licks thrown in for interest near the end. . 3. Big Papa Rides Again - A funky little thing with some nice banjo work and good subdued horn parts. Reminds me of an old horn band called Ten Wheel Drive. More or less a half hearted attempt at Tower of Power. Some overdriven electric guitar near the end over some stops reminiscent of Blood, Sweat and Tears. The song seems to be an assembly of parts rather than a cohesive whole, maybe to show this band can get funky and it can. 4. Northern Falling - Nice banjo picking on this. Soprano sax gives it a Yellowjackets kind of jazz feel. Very mellow with nice syncopated bass and some interesting song twists and turns. You can hear the Weather Report/Wayne Shorter influence throughout the song. The end changes and becomes more or less straight ahead rock and roll with some airy vocals on top. Jennifer Kimball provides vocals over the rock and roll part. Nice banjo throughout. Gets really psychedelic then settles back into jazz at the end. 5. Hand Me My Banjo Down - Loundon Wainwright III sings lead and harmony on this cut and it features some really interesting slide banjo. This song is as close to bluegrass and old timey as the band gets on this CD. The bass sits in the mix with standard bluegrass licks on the verse and heads out in a very tasty jazz walk on the chorus. 6. Miracle Man - Shows off what a great banjo player Tony Trischka is. He plays pretty much solo the first couple of minutes. As soon as the band jumps in the beat turns to a nice bossa jazz part with lots of stops under the banjo. The song soon turns into a Weather Report/Yellowjackets type jazz jam. Some Spyro Gyra sax licks at the end over a basic rock and roll drive set up the end stops nicely. 7. Quazi Qoto - Eastern Indian/Arabic with the banjo sounding like a koto. Flute, chimes in the background and a nice hand drum part give it a lot of oriental flavor. I keep looking for a Cobra to climb out of the CD case. Really very interesting use of a banjo. I could almost see the harem girls dancing. Very nice bass lead rounds out the ending. 8. Fair Lawn Justice - Nice Yellowjackets style soprano sax intro with arpeggio banjo and chimes sets up this tune which soon gets into another jazz jam with nice chord changes and some good lead work from Michael Amendola on the sax. Tony provides some really tasty banjo playing over a cooking multi chordal band jam. Very well done drumWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2010
Total Playing Time - 56:03 -- New Yorker Tony Trischka is an innovative 5-string banjo player who is credited with being one of the first to play jazz on that instrument. Some of his previous groundbreaking bands include Country Cooking (with Peter Wernick), Breakfast Special, Skyline, The Big Dogs and Psychograss. Trischka has authored several banjo instruction books. In 2000, he formed the Tony Trischka Band, a group which embraces the idea that they can play anything, unbound by stylistic constraints. Their first album, Bend (released in 1999), shows influences of jazz, Latin, funk, bluegrass, rock and folk. As a poster band for the creative, improvisational jamgrass movement, the Tony Trischka Band started building a large fan base. "New Deal" is their second album, includes original band members Trischka and tenor saxophonist/flautist Michael Amendola, and presents an eclectic repertoire of highly-arranged aural treats. The rest of the band includes Bob Bowen (acoustic and electric bass), Scott Neumann (drums, vocals) and Rolf Sturm (guitar, vocals). This project supplements the band with the baritone sax of Claire Daly, trombone of Curtis Fowlkes, as well as the guest vocals of David Johansen, Laurel Masse, Jennifer Kimball, and Loudon Wainwright. This crackerjack fusion band tackles everything from bluegrass (Earl's Breakdown) to old-timey (Hand Me My Banjo Down), oriental (Quasi Qoto) to jazz (Miracle Man, Arizona). As they round the bases, enroute to their homerun with this project, they touch a few other bases along the way. I hear some rock riffs in "Northern Falling" (with Kimball's passionate vocal). Rolf Sturm sings lead and provides the rhythm and blues guitar licks on "Big Papa Rides Again." Trischka's regular banjo, slide banjo, National banjo and/or pedal steel provide the right textures for each genre they embrace. Jamsters, they're not. Their delightful arrangements may provide for some improvisational interludes (such as one the 9-minute "Quasi Qoto"), but, for the most part, they are intricately-woven and very precise. The album closes with a country-rock inspired "Baby's in the Cradle" and the melodic "A Hymn for Dreams That Don't Come True" featuring only flute, bass and banjo. I must admit to especially liking the simplicity of this drumless, uncluttered album closer, one of four written by Amendola. Six of the album's tracks are Trischka originals. The Tony Trischka Band is a group of very proficient, highly experienced, risk-taking jazzicians that refuse to be constrained by boundaries during the course of their musical explorations. Their creative compositions are inspiring, and they are the perfect medium for showcasing the band members' versatility. Plus, I've always like the joyous sound of banjo, as I have the relaxing and soothing sound of saxophone. Lay them in the groove with a solid rhythm section and the result is pure musical ecstasy. About this album, I think Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe would've said something like "These guys pick pretty good! That's a strong part of something!" (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.