Father and son bring music from their diverse worlds together on The Rosenthals’ first recording Fly Away. Phil Rosenthal, who was the longtime singer/guitarist for the Seldom Scene and a highly respected banjo and mandolin player, joins his son, jazz trumpeter/composer Daniel Rosenthal, on this 14-cut disc.
Although jazz and bluegrass have joined forces in the past, I was skeptical how well a banjo/trumpet project would sound. However, father and son find common ground to explore on the original tunes and traditional songs that Daniel arranged. “There’s something about trumpet and banjo, that metal on metal blend, that’s always intrigued me,” said Daniel, who grew up playing folk music in the family band that his father led. Phil’s warm baritone comes through quite nicely on songs like “Pretty Polly” and “Little Birdie.” At times on the CD, the banjo and trumpet tackle the instrumentation together while other songs like “Dirt Farmer” have more subtle influences from the trumpet. “I’m playing long tones really softly behind his vocals, trying to emulate what a fiddle player would do, filling up the spaces when he’s not singing,” Daniel said.
Phil’s wife, Beth Sommers, and daughter, Naomi Sommers, contribute harmony vocals. Daniel sings tenor harmonies. Will Graefe adds electric and acoustic guitars while Mike Connors handles drums/percussion and Rick Stone plays alto saxophone. (American Melody Records, P.O. Box 270, Guilford, CT 06437, www.americanmelody.com.)BC