Note of Hope: A Celebration of Woody Guthrie

Note of Hope: A Celebration of Woody Guthrie


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Note of Hope: A Celebration of Woody Guthrie

While Woody Guthrie died in 1967, his career as a songwriter has been remarkably lively since 1998, when Nora Guthrie, Woody's daughter and one of the directors of the Woody Guthrie Foundation, encouraged Billy Bragg and members of Wilco to look through Woody's prolific unpublished writings and set them to music. Mermaid Avenue, the album Bragg and Wilco recorded of "new" Woody Guthrie songs, brought the great songwriter's work to a new audience, but Nora has also granted several other musicians access to her father's writings, including the Klezmatics, Corey Harris, and Jonatha Brooke, and she subsequently teamed up with noted bassist and composer Rob Wasserman for a special project. Wasserman has recorded several albums in collaboration with a variety of pop, rock, and jazz artists, and on Note of Hope, he presents 12 new compositions created with different artists using Guthrie's words as their foundation and Wasserman's fluid bass as the musical constant. Wasserman's eclectic spirit runs free on this collection, and his musical partners include proto-punk icon Lou Reed, hipster jazz vocalist Kurt Elling, Laurel Canyon folk-rocker Jackson Browne, conscious hip-hop MC Michael Franti, rabble-rousing guitarist and singer Tom Morello, and folk legend (and one of Woody's running buddies) Pete Seeger. Wasserman clearly wanted to use Note of Hope as a showcase for the flexibility of Guthrie's lyrical voice, and it's true that his writings are similarly effective no matter what the musical backdrops may be, but it's just as true that the rhythmic cadences and political, emotional, and romantic obsessions of Guthrie's writings dominate these songs more than the music, and two of the best tracks ("I Heard a Man Talking" by Studs Terkel and "There's a Feeling in Music" by Pete Seeger and Tony Trischka) essentially use readings of Guthrie's essays as accompaniment to music rather than marrying them into proper songs. While Lou Reed, Ani DiFranco, Chris Whitley, and Seeger & Trischka all handle emotional material with strength and taste, Elling and Morello both seriously overplay their selections, and at nearly 15 minutes, Jackson Browne's "You Know the Night" could have used some judicious editing. However, if Guthrie's words ultimately win out over the music of Note of Hope, that's as it should be, and Wasserman's bass work is beautiful while serving the songs well, and his many accompanists handle this music with élan. Note of Hope was clearly a project long in the works (Whitley died in 2005 and Terkel passed in 2008), and the care that went into it is clear; while the final product is uneven, the love that went into it is never in doubt, and even the weakest tracks remind us what a special and singular artist Woody Guthrie was, and that's exactly what an album like this should do.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/27/2011
Label: 429 Records
UPC: 0795041784421
catalogNumber: 17844
Rank: 305895

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tony Trischka   Banjo
Jackson Browne   Guitar,Vocals
Van Dyke Parks   Accordion,Keyboards
Lou Reed   Guitar,Vocals
Chris Whitley   Steel Guitar,Vocals
Rob Wasserman   Bass,Background Vocals
Ani DiFranco   Guitar,Percussion,Vocals
Michael Franti   Vocals
Don Heffington   Percussion,Drums
Tom Morello   Guitar,Vocals
Tony Scherr   Guitar
Kurt Elling   Vocals
Matt Cartsonis   Banjo,Guitar,Harmonica,Mandola,Bajo Sexto
Laurence Hobgood   Piano
Madeleine Peyroux   Vocals
Craig Eastman   Violin,Viola
Dave Gibbs   Background Vocals
Peter Atanasoff   Guitar
Irvin Mayfield   Trumpet
Darren Beckett   Drums
Gary Versace   Hammond B3
Nellie McKay   Piano,Vocals
Alethea Mills   Background Vocals
Carl Restivo   Drums,Background Vocals
Ulysses Owens   Drums
Mauricio Lewak   Drums
Jeff Berliner   Guitar
Chavonne Stewart   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Tony Trischka   Composer,Producer
Woody Guthrie   Composer
Jackson Browne   Composer,Producer
Van Dyke Parks   Composer,Producer,Orchestral Arrangements
Lou Reed   Composer,Producer
Chris Whitley   Composer,Producer
Rob Wasserman   Composer,Producer,Liner Notes
Ani DiFranco   Composer,Producer
Paul Dieter   Engineer
Michael Franti   Composer,Producer
Don Heffington   Composer,Producer,Engineer
Tom Morello   Composer,Producer
Steve Rosenthal   Producer,Additional Production
Thom Russo   Engineer
Tony Shepperd   Engineer
Clare Wasserman   Producer
Hal Willner   Producer
Kurt Elling   Arranger,Producer
Matt Cartsonis   Engineer
Laurence Hobgood   Arranger
Madeleine Peyroux   Composer,Producer
Nora Guthrie   Producer,Engineer,Liner Notes,Vocal Engineer
Jeffrey A. Greenberg   Producer
Andrew Gilchrist   Engineer
Phil Tagliere   Engineer
Ben Bailes   Engineer
Nellie McKay   Composer,Producer
Brian Thorn   Engineer
Michael Kleff   Engineer,Vocal Engineer
Bil Lane   Cover Photo
Tiffany Colannino   Image Research

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