Alison Brown: The Company You Keep
The Company You Keep
The thing about listening to Alison Brown play is that she paints whole landscapes and holds whole conversations without saying a word. Brown plays banjo, and sometimes guitar. Her preferred company to keep while doing that include bassist Garry West, piano player John R. Burr, and fiddler/mandolinist/crazy man Joe Craven. There’s also usually a percussionist along, in this case bluegrass drummer Larry Atamanuik and drummer of all trades Kenny Malone. Top Irish guitarist and producer John Doyle joins in as well.
It’s Brown’s playing and imagination which center this good company, however,
leading them through music that brings in sounds of bluegrass, folk, jazz, swing, and Celtic music, without ever losing focus -- creating focus rather, with a music that moves like a fresh breeze from the composer’s imagination to yours.
There are ten tracks on this album, one written by Burr, one written by ace Irish box player Mairtin O’Connor, one a folk tune, and seven composed by Brown with input from West, Doyle, and Burr on various cuts. The titles of the tracks themselves suggest an interesting story, all the way from Crazy Ivan to Rocket Summer, The Road West, Drawing Down the Moon, and Under the (Five) Wire through Rain or Shine, Over Nine Waves, Forky on the Water, The Clean Plate Club, and Waltz for Mr. B Brown regards composing music as both an individual and a collaborative act, starting with the composer's idea and shaped by the ideas of those who play the music. That process is in full and lively force here. That’s something you can see clearly if you get the limited edition ‘Two Makes Company’ version, which includes a dvd of a concert the group played at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Watching or listening , it’s fine and original music played with grace and creativity, well worth repeated visits.
For a taste of what the album and the dvd are like, here’s some video:
update, December 2009 ***congratulations to Alison and all involved on the Grammy nomination for the track Under the (Five) Wire on this album***
you may also want to see
Music Road: Alison Brown Quartet: Evergreen
Music Road: Liz Carroll & John Doyle: Double Play
Music Road: now playing: Athena Tergis: Letter Home