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Banshee Mandolin

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Album Review

John Kruth's music is definitely an acquired taste. Eccentric, quirky, angular, and humorously abstract, the Midwestern singer/songwriter doesn't go out of his way to be accessible. But for those who can accept Kruth on his own terms, Banshee Mandolin offers many rewards. Like other Kruth efforts, this 1991 session isn't easy to categorize. Banshee Mandolin could be described as alternative pop/rock and alternative folk-rock (depending on the song), but unlike most rockers, Kruth hasn't hesitated to claim jazz great Rahsaan Roland Kirk as a major influence. And even though Kruth isn't a jazz artist per se — even though he doesn't scat-sing John Coltrane and Yusef Lateef melodies on this CD — one can tell that the more abstract forms of jazz have influenced his work. Kruth has been influenced by Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Neil Young, and the Beatles, but he isn't as accessible as those rockers; instead, he combines his folk-rock and British Invasion influences with the angularity and abstraction of avant-garde jazz. And like Kirk, Kruth doesn't think twice about moving from one instrument to another. The mandolin is his main instrument on Banshee Mandolin, but he is also heard on banjo, dulcimer, harmonica, flute, and kazoo. Like many of the post-bop and avant-garde jazz artists he admires, Kruth can be self-indulgent — although not in a mindless, aimless way. Kruth, for all his eccentricity, is quite musical. There is a method to his madness, just as there is a method to Cecil Taylor and Ornette Coleman's madness. But again, Kruth isn't one to make a lot of compromises in order to be more accessible. Only those who can accept Kruth's excesses — or perhaps even enjoy them — will be able to fully appreciate Banshee Mandolin.

Customer Reviews

Kruth MAN you Kick ARSE!!!

This man can do it all, rip a riddled mandolin, fly through a steely flute, jump up on a gnarly guitar and silky smooth it all down with his wildly eccentric lyrics borne out of a purely creative mind power. I love this man's musical talent and his ability to reach all kinds of bounds in all styles of rick, jazz, folk and many other styles. He breaks tradition and makes it sound great. Kruth has many other albums not on iTunes worth seeking out. Now plays all over smaller more intimate clubs in NYC...he is a true hip-cat in the truest sense of the word. Read, more, listen more, write more, play more is he motto. You know we love you...Sparks and all


Born: June 19, 1955

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

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

Blind jazz artist Rahsaan Roland Kirk had as much influence on multi-instrumentalist John Kruth as the Beatles or Bob Dylan, and probably even more. Kirk, also a multi-instrumentalist, did astounding things with such instruments as the saxophone, clarinet, and flute. Although the two musicians never met, their paths intersected several times, with the result being that Kirk's musical mastery and spirited life had a direct influence on the emerging younger musician. Upon hearing the elder jazz statesman's...
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Banshee Mandolin, John Kruth
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