Saturday, March 31, 2012

Music for changing seasons

The weather at this season -- spring if you are in the northern hemisphere, autumn in the southern part of the world -- often casts things in changing light and circumstance. Snow one day, wild flowers the next. A soft rain followed by a wildouth winbter copyright kerry dexter wind. A quiet night filled with stars set off by a cloudy sunrise. To go along with these changing seasons, take a listen to these two recordings

On Paradiso, Barry Walsh’s music unfolds as a narrative without words, postcards and journeys and reflections of a man steeped equally in classical and Americana music, within that mix finding his own language and voice.
There’s North Platte, a spare and atmospheric piece in which Walsh’s piano leads a journey through that landscape of high desert and high plains. Gretchen’s Theme is a moody thoughtful piece named in honor of Walsh’s wife, songwriter Gretchen Peters. Peters herself tuns up in a piece that Walsh had in mind to flip their usual musical roles on tour around. The result is Seven Weeks, with Peters playing melody on piano and Walsh weaving in and around her melody lines playing guitar. Another collaborative barry walsh coverpiece is a sort of instrumental call and response by Barry, on piano, and his son Brennan on guitar, on Youth and Age, which they wrote together. Marathon Motor Works, named for a shuttered Nashville automotive factory near where Walsh lives, finds him sharing musical ideas with award winning Dobro player Rob Ickes. There are two imaginings of a short pieces by composer Erik Satie, long one of Walsh favorites among classical musicians, as well.

Guest musicians and classical covers both form integral parts of Walsh’s’ vision here, and though they do, it his vision, his sure and creative hand on the keyboard and fretboard and in compositions and arrangement, which guide the work. Put it on and let those things guide your reflections in this time of changing light and shadow.

Dan Trueman loves the Hardanger fiddle, a Nordic fiddle style you’ve met before if you’ve walked the music road here for a while. Brittany Haas loves old time and trueman haas album coverbluegrass fiddle, which she usually plays on a five string instrument, rather than the more often heard four string kind. They got to talking about what might happen if they put these two interests together. Things were more adventurous than that might at first seem, because of differing tuning and playing styles in the instruments and the music -- that made it all the more challenging for the two.

CrissCross is what they came up with, a collection of original music that puts the grit and edginess of old time fiddle into lively conversation with the haunting and sometimes ethereal Nordic sound of the Hardanger fiddle. There are tunes you could dance to, and tunes you'll want as companions for reflection, a sense of place, a sense of travel, and on occasion, a sense of humour too. Collaborators on this journey include Haas’s Crooked Still band mate, bassist Corey DiMario, guitarist Jordan Tice, and cellist Natalie Haas. Standout tracks include Weaving a Fancy Dress, Monica's Walk, and Seven Nine Eleven. All the fourteen cuts are well worth repeated listening, though: just put it on and let it Haas and Trueman take you on unexpected journeys.

you may also wish to see
Crooked Still: Still Crooked
Barry Walsh : The Crossing
Gretchen Peters: Northern Lights

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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