Bluegrass music is, thankfully, an international endeavor. Even so, more can always be done to reach out to lovers and performers of the music whether they be in Japan, Italy, Australia, or the Czech Republic, where scenes are already established, or in many other countries ripe for good tunes. The Czech Republic has long been fertile ground for bluegrass music, with bands like Fragment carrying on the faraway tradition in their homeland.
Ondra Kozák is a member of Fragment, as well as another Czech band called G-Runs ’n Roses. Ataman is his new solo album, and it explores acoustic music done his way. This is not a traditional bluegrass album in any way, shape, or form, but instead explores the roots and branches end of the genre. Kozák plays virtually all of the instruments including acoustic and electric guitar, bass, fiddle, mandolin, and lead vocals on one song. Not that there isn’t some bluegrass-inspired work on this album, because there is. But, it’s more in line with the newgrass of Sam Bush or David Grisman or the new acoustic work of Tony Rice.
Some of the highlights of this mostly instrumental album include “Flatpig #1,” “Bukit Batok,” “Flatpig #2,” and “The Best Thing In My Life.” The album also features Kozák’s bride Marta on occasional piano, along with guests Karel Zacal on resonator guitar, Vít Hanulík on mandolin, and Filip Bat’o on banjo. It’s very enjoyable to hear this young man from Olomouc, Czech Republic showcase his skills and writing abilities, as all of these tunes were written by Kozák. (www.ondrakozak.com)DH