Rézard is a French banjo player and quite accomplished at that. Most of the musicians here are French with two outstanding exceptions. Sam Bush and Stuart Duncan both shine on the cuts “Brocéliande” and “Magentic Breakdown.” Both adeptly handle the wide range of styles from bluegrass to pieces with a light classic air to some jazzgrass. Rézard’s banjo style is not typical bluegrass. His tone is round and his touch is elegant. He brings a wide range of influences into his music, making for some great listening.
Rézard also plays mandolin with style, and his tune “TLF” is a tribute to his favorite mandolin players, Bill Monroe, David Grisman, Sam Bush, and John Reischman. He plays mandolin and banjo on several cuts, as well as guitar. His banjo solo “To Reach The Clouds” is wonderfully artsy. As a bonus, tab for it appears in the liner notes. He also provided the tab for “Blue Musette.” A musette is the musical precursor to gypsy jazz.
“Erin Spleen” has the Rézard family playing together and the changes and improvisation are evocative of the Emerald Isle. The album closes with another solo banjo piece, “Korrigan’s Stomp,” a tribute to fairy-like creatures who inhabit the moor…or so they say. If you like acoustic string band music that will stretch you a bit, this gem of a recording with its many fine sounds is sure to please. The melodies, the harmonies, the voices of the instruments ring with a rich sonority that is satisfying and tantalizing all at once. (Gilles Rézard, 42 Rue de l’Eglise, 71960, Igé, France, www.gillesrezard.com.)RCB