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Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn

Posted by Ragaisis on Monday, December 1, 2014

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn

Rounder 2014

What do you want from your banjo music?  Beautiful musicianship, compelling vocals, twists on traditional tunes and a murder ballad you won’t stop humming, stop right now, go out and buy this CD.  Seriously.

There is a combination of musicality Bela and Abigail put together which rises above the playing of music and displays a new way to work with tradition.  This CD features 12 tracks - either original compositions or traditional tunes with original arrangements.  The feeling is a very close, intimate and compelling tour of the banjo.  It feels like a living room concert. 

Bela continues to show what he does so well – choose just the perfect way to back any tune and give it all the right emphasis.  His melodic runs are “crisp”, his tone and technique “fat”, and his use of rhythm keeps everything moving forward, interesting, but never overshadows the overall feel of the music.  Abigail’s vocals are rich and haunting and have a surprise every now and then which will make you smile.  Together they give you arrangements which are nothing short of perfect.

This is an album which does not “blaze” the way many bluegrass albums will.  But it heats you gently and gives you a warmth which lasts long after you’ve finished listening.

And the opening track, “Railroad”, is an absolute gem.  It might even be the way this tune will be performed from now on.

3 comments on “Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn”

MargieGirl Says:
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 @12:48:16 AM

Love this tune and Pretty Polly. Both are interesting arrangements and engaging. It's going to be a real challenge to incorporate both banjo texture into one solo arrangement. I'm working on incorporating the rhythm section with and some additional choral elements and lacing them with some of the melodic textural runs. Still a work in progress. Anyone have any ideas?

Ragaisis Says:
Tuesday, December 23, 2014 @4:25:04 AM

I'd do a "call and response" where either the rhythm section, choral section or banjo play one line, and then another section answers in playing something similar. For example, you sing "Pretty Polly..." and stop as the banjo answers using the same notes you sang in the same cadence. One of the more famous bluegrass examples of this technique is in Dueling Banjos. Like that tune or not (and I do), it makes clear use of call and response.

MargieGirl Says:
Friday, December 26, 2014 @12:40:41 AM

Thank you for your input on Pretty Polly. And input on Railroad?? Thank you.

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