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Album Review

Listeners that can't deal with the banjo for anything other than a "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" will be the ones forced to "bend" in order to accept that Tony Trischka has put together a good fusion-jazz band with Southern rock overtones, and seems pretty serious about it. The young "jam band" audience of the early 21st century definitely gravitates toward music such as this, and with Mike Gordon of Phish giving a thumbs-up in the liner notes, Trischka might not have to care about older fans that would rather hear him play bluegrass or banjo pieces from the minstrel era. He doesn't play a note on this CD that doesn't sound beautiful. The younger fellows backing him up have a tall order trying to play on his level, with as much originality and innovation, and in some ways it is too much to expect. Half the excitement of Trischka is that he is playing like this on a banjo, not just for the sake of novelty but because it is a beautiful instrument, and all styles of music sound great on it, including this. Follow-up solos on electric guitar or tenor sax, though fluent, can't help but be an anti-climactic. There's more to these players than just their improvisational skills. The leader utilizes compositions by several of the band members to balance out the program, and the writing is consistently fine. Those that view themselves as totally opposed to fusion-jazz should give this CD a chance, as this is a fusion band with an important difference besides the leader's instrument — the group has a bluegrass influence! Try finding that on your Return to Forever discs.


Born: 16 January 1949 in Syracuse, NY

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The avant-garde banjo stylings of Tony Trischka inspired a whole generation of progressive bluegrass musicians; he was not only considered among the very best pickers, he was also one of the instrument's top teachers, and created...
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Bend, Tony Trischka
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