Mike Marshall: Sweets Mill

When describing his trio, Mike Marshall goes so far as to call Alex Hargreaves and Paul Kowert "old souls." The cynical among us might be tempted to sneer at this cliché, but at ages 16 and 21, the music they're capable of creating shows an astonishing amount of reach. Combining elements of jazz, classical, and New Grass, "Sweets Mill" manages to span the gap between the modern and the old-timey. While Marshall sets up the harmonic bed with a long series of arpeggios, Kowert's bass comes in underneath. Hargreaves soon follows with the violin. The roles played by the young string duo shift as the composition continues, with the violin switching to pizzicato, while the bass provides some swing in the non-bowed mode. This is where the tune makes subtle transformations between New Grass and jazz. Moods change as well, from deliberate and pensive to up-tempo and cheerful. Old souls? Yes, Mr. Marshall got that exactly right.

March 10, 2009 · 0 comments


Stéphane Grappelli and David Grisman: Tiger Rag

Stéphane Grappelli played concerts as well as recorded with David Grisman's captivating acoustic string group, which enjoyed several years of great popularity before its members parted ways in the early 1980s. The group, in a way, was an eclectic re-imagining of the Quintette du Hot Club de France, with bluegrass and folk elements added to the mix. This track features Grappelli with fellow violinist Mark O'Connor, who was mentored by Stéphane starting at age 17 and went on to a successful career encompassing the jazz, country and classical fields, including his Hot Swing Trio. Grappelli introduces this "Tiger Rag" as "a transcription for two violins," but after their mostly unison intricate exposition, the rest of the group enters the fray and Grappelli and O'Connor perform dazzling solos and exchanges, Mark's slight country twang helping to distinguish him from Stéphane. Grisman's energetic mandolin picking prods them along. Said O'Connor of Grappelli years later: "The last time we played together was about a year before his death. He gripped my hand strongly afterwards and would not let go of it for 30 minutes. I understood that he wanted me to carry on his memory."

March 26, 2008 · 0 comments


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