Two of the most respected music forms, bluegrass and jazz, find a common ground from their roots that dig deep into the music culture of the American South in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
And who better to reach the crossroads of musical influences and vocabularies than the revered Del McCoury Band? They joined the Preservation Hall Jazz Band in the studio and recorded what one of the jazz band’s players called “Mardi-grass.”
The CD kicks off with the feel-good “The Boys In Town.” “Boy what a great backup band for a singer,” Del McCoury said. “When you hear that behind you, it really gets you enthused about singing.” That’s apparent in songs like “50/50 Chance” and Bing Crosby’s “One Has My Name,” which McCoury admits would have been hard to sing in any other context. Rob McCoury and the Hall’s Carl LeBlanc shine on “Banjo Frisco.” Bill Monroe’s “Millenberg Joy” (originally New Orleans favorite “Milneburg Joys”), Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya,” and the gospel classic “I’ll Fly Away” get a new dimension.
Some of the runs heard by the jazz band horns sound familiar to what is heard by stringed instruments in bluegrass. “Like the trumpet player, he’ll play a run and I’ll think, ‘Man, I’ve heard fiddle players in bluegrass do the same thing exactly,’” McCoury said. Frankly, bluegrass purists may not like this album, but music lovers who enjoy experimentation will be thrilled with the two genres’ union. It’s a marriage that works beautifully. (McCoury Music, P.O. Box 128437, Nashville, TN 37212, www.mccourymusic.com.) BC