This young man has a firm grasp of the art of the clawhammer banjo. He can drive it hard and has melodic touch influenced by the great Adam Hurt. There is a sense of a music world far beyond the realm of old-time mountain music in this young man’s approach.
The first half of the project tends to be more traditional with fine old-time tunes such as “Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss” on which the banjo shadows Nate Leath’s fiddle, or “Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine,” a fine banjo instrumental with guitar backup from Danny Knicely. Showing his traditional chops, Furtado does a solid reading of the old southwestern Virginia piece “Fortune,” with the “Galax lick” and all. Mark Schatz, quite the banjo player himself, lays down some fine bass lines on the ensemble pieces. His solo introduction to the funky reading of “Chilly Winds” is a highlight of the recording. The whole band treats this tune as the mountain blues it is. “Durang’s Hornpipe” shows off Furtado’s melodic mastery in a solo setting. By track eight, “Ghost On Hippie Hill,” the music starts to really branch out from the pure traditional and we get a taste of the young man’s imagination. His take on “Catlettsburg” is unusual to say the least. Not afraid to challenge the status quo, Furtado takes the banjo where few dare go. The music becomes more atmospheric, but with an attitude.
This recording may not appeal to everyone, but that’s not the point. Furtado and his session mates have created a musical statement that challenges some assumptions, and they joyfully jump all over those assumptions and have a ball just playing some great music that stretches and bends tradition, sending it through a growth spurt. (Patuxent Music, P.O. Box 572, Rockville, MD 20848, www.pxrec.com.)RCB