Munde’s Child Records
Picture yourself sitting at your kitchen table with a nice cup of coffee. On one side is Billy Bright with his mandolin and mandola. On the other side is Alan Munde with his banjo. You get the full stereo effect as they start to play. No other instruments. Just two maestros listening and playing to and with one another, feeding musically off each other, blending and harmonizing notes seamlessly, trading melodic lines. That’s what it’s like listening to this CD, and also the effect the designer seems to have been going for in the morphing image of the duo on the CD cover.
If it seems like these two Texas virtuosos have played together before, it’s because they have for years, also sharing the stages with various other bluegrass luminaries. Bright, a Berklee alum who most recently toured with Wood & Wire, is also known for his mandolin work as a member of Peter Rowan’s Texas Trio. Munde, an IBMA-award winner, is especially known for his twenty-plus years of work with Country Gazette. He’s considered one of the most influential bluegrass banjo players of our time, known also for his early innovative work with Poor Richard’s Almanac and with Jimmy Martin.
The duo, who live within a few miles of one another in Texas, unveil ten original instrumentals, two traditional tunes, and a snappy rendition of Bill Monroe’s “Methodist Preacher.” The sonic experience is mesmerizing, highly melodic and relaxed, varying from quick-paced tunes like the kick-off melody in “Geezer Ride” to waltzes like the melancholy “Sad Eyes” and the tender “Plurabelle,” which sounds like it could have served as a Civil War documentary soundtrack. Improvisation is the rule for this duo, with snappy, jazz-infused approaches in “G” and “Hot Dog Dreams” to the bluegrass-tinged “Red Fox In The Bush” or Munde’s playful “Like Sonny,” inspired by a Sonny Osborne lick. Bluegrass-flavored melodies include the speedy “Everybody Say, Wow,” Bright’s “The Old Yellow Rocking Chair,” and traditional numbers “Who Killed The Old Red Rooster” and “Jaybird.” Regardless of the tune, the mix is often so captivating and meticulous that it’s easy to forget there are only two instruments being played. (Alan Munde, P.O. Box 2529, Wimberley, TX 78676, www.alanmundesbanjocollege.com.)SI