Adventure Music America
Given the innovative nature of Darol Anger’s wide-ranging musical explorations, it’s easy to look at a title like e-and’a and think, “Oh, maybe he’s just decided to go one step beyond DNA.” And then, when you learn that the title is derived from counting off a tune (as in one-e-and-a-two-e), the realization dawns that this is probably as close as Lawrence Welk and Darol Anger are ever likely to be mentioned in the same breath.
Titles aside, what we have here is a gathering of superb young musicians who can match everything this adventurous fiddler can bring on and take it even further. Joined by mandolinist Joe Walsh, guitarist Courtney Hartman, banjoist Lukas Pool, and bassist Sharon Gilchrist, Anger leads and is led by this ensemble through ten beautifully evocative instrumentals that give new life to new acoustic music. The program is a balanced mix of original and traditional pieces. Part of what gives this recording its energy is that the originals, for the most part, sound traditional, while the older tunes often contain some inherently quirky twists and turns that make them sound like modern compositions. Anger and Walsh have composed a few of the new pieces, joining numbers from Vassar Clements, John McGann, and John Hartford. But the joy comes in hearing a great tune like “Farewell To Trion” with all its crooked surprises treated so well by these players.
Despite being surrounded by such vibrant and innovative young musicians, this is actually one of the less, shall we say, radical sessions that Anger has lead in recent memory. It has an ensemble feel in the best sense, with all involved putting the tunes ahead of the licks. And when the tunes and the players are all full of such vibrant life, what you end up with is a CD with an off-kilter title that’s full of beautifully realized traditionally-based acoustic string music. (www.darolanger.com.)HK