160

Eric Holle And Friends: Banjo Rebop

Mark Sabbatini By

Sign in to view read count
Eric Holle And Friends: Banjo Rebop Maybe this is what Bela Fleck would sound like as an unknown playing coffee houses, jamming with other struggling musicians and trying out various unusual ideas designed to get noticed.



Eric Holle’s “Banjo Rebop” is something akin to a redneck Flecktones album, which in this case is a compliment. A resident of the tiny artist-oriented town of Haines, Alaska, his biggest moment in the limelight to date might be National Public Radio’s selection of a song from this disc as part of its online “Open Mike” series (readers rated it 3.187 out of 5). The album itself is a case of the sum exceeding its parts, with solid but seldom spectacular individual performances blending into a diverse musical portrait that is a consistent pleasure.



Holle starts the album putting listeners into comfortable territory with a couple of well-known standards, “Minor Swing” and “After You’ve Gone.” Both come off solidly enough as he fills his solo space with a rapid-fire jazz/bluegrass hybrid strum found throughout the album, which always flows smoothly even if there are few standout individual passages. Violinist Gillies Apap—perhaps the strongest sideman on the album—provides a soothing textural supplement on the opener and saxophonist Wayne Norlund’s tone on the second track gives its an authentic old-time feel. Chollette Cosa contributes vocals on the latter track to pretty much a neutral effect—never feeling like they get in the way but not elevating things beyond what the instrumentalists are doing.



Just a look at the album’s song titles, such as “Struttin’ With The Cannibal Cows” and “Bad Cop, No Donut!” (“True story, with a happy ending,” the linear notes claim), indicates Holle isn’t going to stay the traditional mode for long. His original “Smells Like Money” as the third track (“Tourists, FBI agents or Extraterrestrials?”) feels like an avant-garde take on a 1940s movie soundtrack with Holle delivering the unusual lyrics with swinging style and Jon Hanson providing a well-toned if somewhat imprecise trumpet solo.



The remainder of the album switches between originals and standards in similar style. The amusing tale of “Bad Cop” amusing tale is strictly folk, for example, while the following “Airmail Special” swifts into serious modern bebop that finds all of the players making some of their strongest contributions. He ends with a seductive interpretation of “Autumn Leaves” and some substantial interaction with Apap and Norlund, with the only possible drawback being the low-key taste left in the listener’s mouth after some of the album’s other up-tempo romps.



A comparison with Fleck is perhaps inevitable for a banjo player wandering into the jazz arena, and Holle in general holds up remarkably well on this album. His work is more eclectic and has more of a small-town folk feel than Fleck’s adventures with big-name artists and larger ensemble performances—hardly a surprise, given their respective settings—but fans of either are likely to find satisfaction in both efforts.



The album can be purchased for $17, including shipping, from Capitol Records by e-mail at robco@alaska.net , or by mail at 118 Seward Street, Juneau, AK 99801.


Track Listing: Minor Swing, After You

Personnel: Eric Holle, five-string banjo, vocals; Gilles Apap, violin; Jon Hanson, trumpet; Lee Hacker, drums, percussion; Collette Cosa, vocals; Albert McDonnell, acoustic and electric bass guitars; Wayne Norlund, tenor and soprano saxophones.

Year Released: 2003 | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "The Caustic Ballads" CD/LP/Track Review The Caustic Ballads
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: August 24, 2016
Read "TriAngular Bent" CD/LP/Track Review TriAngular Bent
by Dave Wayne
Published: September 22, 2016
Read "Live At Maxwell's" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Maxwell's
by Budd Kopman
Published: September 23, 2016
Read "Forest Grove" CD/LP/Track Review Forest Grove
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 26, 2016
Read "Gin Fizz Fandango" CD/LP/Track Review Gin Fizz Fandango
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 20, 2016
Read "Solstice" CD/LP/Track Review Solstice
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!