Thursday, April 21, 2005

What I'm listening to lately

Last night on the way home from work it was a compilation of Rossini overtures on CD. Why? Because eight minutes into the "William Tell Overture"'s The Lone Ranger! I played that one just for Joe. Then after repeating it three times, I was in a pretty good mood so I popped in Sam Bush's Peaks of Telluride. When Joe is in the car I always have to skip ahead to Pastor Mustard doing his Heen recitation. Joe can almost recite the whole thing. Then I usually skip to Girl Of The North Country, the Bob Dylan song played as a mando/dobro duet with Jerry Douglas, then one of my all time favorites, Same Ol' River. Incredible solos, incredible energy.

The album I've been playing most often is Natalie MacMaster's Blueprint. This is fast becoming one of my all time favorites. I first saw Natalie in 1994 or 1995 at the Merle Watson Festival, and was impressed with how she could get an entire festival audience tapping their feet. This album, produced by Darol Anger, has Natalie playing with a who's who list of my favorite musicians: Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Jerry Douglas, Matt Flinner, and so on... Medleys of strathspeys, reels, and jigs maintain Natalie's Cape Breton style but are flavored with nuances of bluegrass, newgrass, and acoustic jazz. The Ewe With The Crooked Horn, opening up with Sam Bush's signature mando chop rhythm, reminds me of another all time favorite album, The Telluride Sessions by Strength in Numbers.

The one tune that has grown on me most, however, is Johsefin's Waltz. Perhaps it's my Scandinavian heritage that draws me to this piece, written by Roger Tallroth of the Swedish group Vasen. Slow, bittersweet, dancing the thin line between light and shadow, joy and melancholy, never leaping too far to one side, this is everything a slow waltz should be. Darol Anger's spare, melodic arrangement captures this essence perfectly, and Natalie's soaring fiddle wails the full range of emotion. I can't express enough in words how cathartic this piece is to me. I compare it with Ashokan Farewell; the sound is timeless.

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