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Echo In The ValleyWith one eye on using the banjo to showcase America's rich heritage and the other pulling the noble instrument from its most familiar arena into new and unique realms, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn's second album Echo in the Valley is simultaneously familiar and wildly innovative.
"Some of the most interesting things in the world come together in strange and unique ways and show our diversity," reflects Bela, a fifteen-time Grammy award winner who is often considered the world's premier banjo player. "The banjo is just one of those things. It's a great example of how the world can combine things and create surprising hybrids," a reference to the ancestral African roots of the banjo combining with Scotch-Irish music in Appalachia.
Echo in the Valley is the follow up to Bela and Abigail's acclaimed, self-titled debut that earned the 2016 Grammy for Best Folk Album. This time around, the mission was to take their double banjo combination of three finger and clawhammer styles "to the next level and find things to do together that we had not done before," says Bela. "We're expressing different emotions through past techniques and going to deeper places." The results are fascinating, especially considering their strict rules for recording: all sounds must be created by the two of them, the only instruments used are banjos (they have seven between them, ranging from a ukulele to an upright bass banjo), and they must be able to perform every recorded song live.
Fleck and Washburn met at a square dance and began playing music together a dozen years ago, beginning with the Sparrow Quartet. They married shortly thereafter and became parents to a cute little tot. They've been touring the globe as a duo for years, almost nonstop but for each other's performances with various other musical iterations: Bela with the likes of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Chick Corea and Chris Thile, among many others, and Abigail with Wu Fei (a master of the ancient 21-string Chinese zither), The Wu-Force and Uncle Earl.
With the exception of a few restyled traditional tunes, all tracks on Echo in the Valley are originals, and are largely co-written - a different creative approach from their first album, where songs were mostly his or hers.
"This time, we really wanted to truly write together," Bela adds. "We spent a lot of our time on the lyrics, deciding what we want the songs to communicate, both literally and under the surface."
Echo in the Valley reflects relevant issues while simultaneously connecting us to our past through wild re-imaginings of traditional pieces. New original tunes range from "Over the Divide," a song inspired by Hans Breuer, who worked to ferry Syrian refugees to safety, to "Blooming Rose," inspired by Native American voices and lamenting a continual distancing from nature, and "Don't Let It Bring You is an emphatic mantra for hard times.
With I don't wanna cry, cry, cry, oh, "Let it Go" is ultimately about release from the pain of transition, surrendering to growth. The song acknowledges that we must let our children grow up; the concession that youthful innocence will one day give way to adult cares and worries.
Clarence Ashley's "My Home's Across the Blue Ridge Mountains" has been turned into a rural blues, and Bela's well-known piece "Big Country" is framed by the traditional Appalachian tunes "Sally in the Garden" and "Molly Put the Kettle On," a medley Bela and Abigail performed hundreds of times on stage before recording. "'Big Country' is one of the most beauty melodies I have ever heard played on the banjo," says Abigail, who takes the lead on this version.
"Come All You Coal Miners" is the point-of-view of coal-miner advocate Sarah Ogan Gunning, whose passages remain poignant and powerful today. "This song came from a very emotional, mother-driven, daughter-driven, wife-driven place, and there are not many songs throughout history from that perspective, so I am incredibly moved by her," says Washburn.
As the story goes, Bela was struck by the sound of Mr. Earl Scruggs' banjo when hearing the Beverly Hillbillies theme song. He got hold of a banjo, took his musical namesakes (Bela for Bartok, Anton for Weburn, Leos for Yanecek) to heart, and has since continuously broken new musical ground with his instrument. Fleck has the distinction of being nominated in more categories than any other instrumentalist in Grammy history, and has brought his banjo through scorching hot newgrass, traditional bluegrass, otherworldly funk, modern jazz, African originals, transatlantic Celtic, and classical realms, with two self-composed banjo concertos to his name (The Impostor and Juno Concerto), with a third one in the works.
Abigail was similarly jolted into life as a banjoist, but for her it was hearing Doc Watson.
"I was proud to discover that I came from a country where you can hear that ancient sound - from Africa, from Scotland, from Ireland - all mixed up in this beautiful new sound, with those ancient tones in it," Abigail reflects. "The ancient sounds of our culture remind us who we are, and in them, we see a constellation of who we are becoming."
Washburn has imbued this philosophy in all aspects of her work, from the string band Uncle Earl to her acclaimed solo albums, Song of the Traveling Daughter and City of Refuge, and her semi-autobiographical theatrical work, Post-American Girl, as well as in her musical ambassadorship with China, a country with which she has a long, profound history. Abigail is deftly following in the footsteps of the founding mothers of folk, and has become a prominent voice of old-time in our time while bringing to light those ancient sounds of American and Far East cultures in new and exciting ways.
Bela and Abigail's creative process on Echo in the Valley is sonically made manifest in the record's major themes of harmony, empathy and surrender. As Abigail explains, the intense, intimate collaboration that Fleck and Washburn put forward on this project required "a spirit of staying strong, but also a willingness to release into the other's ideas to create something new," possibly something bigger and more beautiful than one could do on one's own.1. Over The Divide
2. Take Me To Harlan
3. Let It Go
4. Don't Let It Bring You Down
5. Sally In The Garden / Big Country / Molly Put The Kettle On
6. My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains
7. Hello Friend
8. If I Could Talk To A Younger Me
9. On This Winding Road
10. Come All You Coal Miners
11. Bloomin' Rose$24.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Flight Of The Cosmic HippoMastered From The Original 1991 Sony 3402 ¼" Digital Tape Flat Masters By Andrew Mendelson At Georgetown Masters (Original Mastering House)
Lacquer Created At Capitol Mastering
180 Gram Vinyl Pressed At RTI
Jacket Printed At Stoughton Printing
First Time Released In Us On Vinyl (Previously Released In Germany Only)
The Flecktones owe more to bebop than bluegrass, and here the group finally names their style blu-bop. That's why Flight of the Cosmic Hippo topped the jazz, not the country, chart. The Flecktones continue to make it look easy, adding banjo power chords to Turtle Rock and reworking Lennon/McCartney's Michelle.
-Brian Mansfield (All Music Guide)1. Blu-Bop (Remastered)
2. Flying Saucer Dudes (Remastered)
3. Turtle Rock (Remastered)
4. Flight Of The Cosmic Hippo (Remastered)
5. The Star Spangled Banner (Remastered)
6. Star Of The County Down (Remastered)
7. Jekyll And Hyde (And Ted And Alice) [Remastered]
8. Michelle (Remastered)
9. Hole In The Wall (Remastered)
10. Flight Of The Cosmic Hippo (Reprise) [Remastered]$18.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Hoist180 Gram Black Vinyl Limited to 5,000 Copies
Lacquers Cut From The 1/2 Flat Master Reels By Chris Bellman At Bernie Grundman Mastering
Pressed On Vinyl For The First Time
Hoist (stylized as (Hoist)) is the fifth official studio album by the American rock band Phish, originally released in 1994. At the time of its release, Hoist was Phish's best selling album to date, peaking at #34 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
The band suggested a few ideas for the album's title before finally settling on Hoist; one of the alternative suggestions was Hung Like a Horse. The band ruled this out, but decided to keep the visual joke intact for the album's cover. The horse is also a reference to The Horse, the only song not visually depicted on the cover of Rift, the band's previous album.
Hoist features guest appearances from Alison Krauss, BÉla Fleck and a host of other musicians, as well as actor Jonathan Frakes on trombone. With its jazz, blues, soul and bluegrass influences, the album is marked by more stripped-down, straightforward songwriting and pop-friendly hooks, a somewhat new approach for Phish.
However, the album's final track, Demand, segues into an extended instrumental excerpt from the April 21, 1993, live performance of the song Split Open and Melt, followed by the first verse and refrain of the Hebrew song Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold).
Riker's Mailbox is a brief interlude track on the album, and the only song on the album to have never been performed live by the band. Album producer Paul Fox lived next to Jonathan Frakes, whose mailbox is apparently uniquely decorated. Frakes, who played Commander Riker on Star Trek: The Next Generation, sat in for a while during the Hoist sessions, giving his name to the track.
Hoist was certified gold by the RIAA in August of 1996.LP 1
2. Down with Disease
3. If I Could
4. Riker's Mailbox
5. Axilla (Part II)
1. Sample In A Jar
2. Wolfman's Brother
3. Scent Of A Mule
4. Dog Faced Boy
$49.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
Sun Midnight SunSun Midnight Sun is the second solo album from acclaimed singer, songwriter, and fiddle player Sara Watkins. Produced by guitarist, singer, and songwriter Blake Mills, co-founder of the band Simon Dawes, the album features special guest appearances by Fiona Apple, Jackson Browne, Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Benmont Tench, and Sean Watkins.
In the three years since her last release, Watkins has been busy touring the world as guest fiddle player and vocalist with the Decemberists and joining Garrison Keillor on his nationwide Summer Love performance tours, as well as acting as his first and only guest host for A Prairie Home Companion broadcasts.
Sun Midnight Sun was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Shawn Everett at Zeitgeist Studio, Los Angeles, and includes songs written by Watkins ("You and Me," "Take Up Your Spade") as well as several collaborations with Mills ("The Foothills," "Be There," "The Accord," "Impossible," and "Lock and Key"). It also features songs by Dan Wilson ("When It Pleases You") and Willie Nelson ("I'm a Memory"), and a rendition of The Everly Brothers classic "You're the One I Love," on which Fiona Apple duets with Watkins.
Watkins first gained recognition as a founding member of the Grammy Award-winning, platinum-selling trio Nickel Creek. When not on the road or in the studio, Watkins has guest-starred as fiddler and/or harmony vocalist on albums by BÉla Fleck, the Chieftains, Ray LaMontagne, Ben Lee, Dan Wilson, Richard Thompson, and Alex Woodward, among others. Additionally, Watkins and her brother Sean continue an informal residency called the Watkins Family Hour at the L.A. club Largo, which often includes surprise cameos from friends and colleagues.1. The Foothills
2. You and Me
3. You're the One I Love (ft. Fiona Apple)
4. When It Pleases You
5. Be There
6. I'm a Memory
8. The Ward Accord
9. Lock & Key
10. Take Up Your Spade$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Bach: Sonata and Partitas, Vol. 1Nonesuch Records releases an album of three Bach works recorded by mandolin virtuoso and MacArthur Fellow Chris Thile in 2013. Bach: Sonatas and Partitas, Vol. 1 comprises three works written for solo violin: Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001; Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002; and Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003. The album was produced by Thile's friend, mentor, and frequent collaborator, the double bassist and composer Edgar Meyer.
Thile explains his connection to the composer: "Bach was my first meaningful experience with-for lack of a better word-classical music. It was the second recording of Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations. Gould plays with the kind of rhythmic integrity that I had previously only associated with non-classical music: music with a groove, with a pocket, that made you move. Gould was playing that music like my heroes play fiddle tunes. It humanized the whole thing for me and the heavens opened up and Bach came down. I started devouring all the Bach I could get my hands on."
He continues, "This record to me is not about this iconic violin music played on the mandolin-like, 'Oh boy, what fun, he's playing a weird instrument!' It's about Bach being one of the greatest musicians of all time, the solo violin music being some of his best work, and the mandolin having the potential to cast it in a new and hopefully interesting light.
Chris Thile, whom London's Independent calls "the most remarkable mandolinist in the world," is the founding member and lead vocalist of Punch Brothers. With broad influences including progressive bluegrass, classical, rock, and jazz, Thile transcends the borders of conventionally circumscribed genres, creating a distinctly American canon and a new musical aesthetic. Thile will be touring this summer with Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, and Edgar Meyer, with whom he released last year's The Goat Rodeo Sessions, which won two Grammys in 2013.
As a soloist, Thile has released five previous albums. In 2011, Nonesuch Records released the Grammy-nominated Sleep with One Eye Open, an album of duets with guitarist Michael Daves. Thile has also collaborated with a pantheon of musical innovators from multiple genres including BÉla Fleck, Brad Mehldau, and Hilary Hahn. For more than 15 years, Thile played in the wildly popular band Nickel Creek, with which he released three albums, sold two million records, and was awarded a Grammy.
The New Yorker's Alec Wilkinson said of Punch Brothers: "each musician has a deep command of his instrument their technique and specific sensibilities have given Punch Brothers a sound that is strikingly coherent and singular, even if they haven't yet settled on a genre Each of the musicians plays with grace, thoughtfulness, and force to a degree that is not duplicated by any band I am aware of." Their latest album, the critically acclaimed Who's Feeling Young Now?, was released in 2012 on Nonesuch Records.
Chris Thile, mandolin
Produced by Edgar Meyer
Recorded and Mixed by Richard King
Recorded January 12-17, 2013, at The Barn, Washington, MA
Mastered by Robert C. Ludwig at Gateway Mastering Studios, Portland ME
Illustration by Oliver Jeffers
Design by Rory Jeffers
Photography by Ryan Mastro
Executive Producer: Robert Hurwitz1. Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: I. Adagio
2. Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: II. Fuga: Allegro
3. Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: III. Siciliana
4. Sonata No. 1 in G Minor, BWV 1001: IV. Presto
5. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: I. Allemanda
6. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: II. Double
7. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: III. Corrente
8. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: IV. Double: Presto
9. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: V. Sarabande
10. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: VI. Double
11. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: VII. Tempo di Borea
12. Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002: VIII. Double
13. Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003: I. Grave
14. Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003: II. Fuga
15. Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003: III. Andante
16. Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, BWV 1003: IV. Allegro$20.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now