Learn How

Help improve All About Jazz

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. For $20, we'll hide those pesky Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

167

Andy Biskin Quartet: Early American: The Melodies of Stephen Foster

By

Sign in to view read count
Andy Biskin Quartet: Early American: The Melodies of Stephen Foster Stephen Foster was America's first pop songwriter, his music widely sung and played, as well as reproduced on music boxes (this album begins and ends with examples) in the last half of the 19th Century. But Foster is not the only uniquely American musician clarinetist Andy Biskin takes inspiration from in this idiosyncratic album.

The spirit of Raymond Scott, whose music was created roughly a century after Foster's, also informs this project. Scott's antic style—best known from his soundtrack work for animated cartoon shorts—is reflected in both Biskin's approach to instrumentation and jumpy, jangly time shifting.

Biskin's unique instrumentation takes cues from Jimmy Giuffre's early small groups, which also employed trombone and/or guitar. But here trombonist Chris Washburne doubles on tuba, guitarist Pete McCann adds some banjo and there's a drummer, John Hollenbeck, who adds such period touches as paradiddles and martial tattoos. And Biskin varies the sonic lineup even more with frequent drop-outs to spotlight duos or trios, and a cappella breaks. Melodies are also shared among clarinet, muted and open trombone, tuba and a guitar employing a wide spectrum of tones and electric/acoustic strategies.

The fifteen quartet tracks intersperse six Biskin originals among nine Biskin-arranged Foster tunes. His originals, like the whimsical "Journey Cake quoting "When the Saints Go Marching In, and the self-descriptive "Fits and Starts, reinforce the Raymond Scott connection. His approach to Foster varies from fairly straight melodic ("Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair ) to a "Beautiful Dreamer relying on the listener's familiarity with the melody to assemble the cubist splotches and serial shards delivered by the horns and guitar. But most Foster tunes are delivered in alternating slow and fast sections, the slow ones honing close to Foster's melodies, the quick ones providing counter-melodies, riffs or space for improvisation.


Track Listing: My Old Kentucky Home, Good Night!; Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair; Early American; Camptown Races; Journey Cake; Oh! Susanna; Fits and Starts; Hard Times Come Again No More; Nelly Bly; Thin King Thinking; Old Folks At Home; Old Black Joe; Dom Casual; There's A Good Time Coming; Beautiful Dreamer; Kid Proof; Old Folks At Home.

Personnel: Andy Biskin: clarinet; Pete McCann: guitar, banjo; Chris Washburne: trombone, tuba; John Hollenbeck: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Strudelmedia | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read #knowingishalfthebattle CD/LP/Track Review #knowingishalfthebattle
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Live In Brooklyn CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read King Of Xhosa CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Blooming Tall Phlox CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 23, 2017
Read Hear & Now CD/LP/Track Review Hear & Now
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 22, 2017
Read Known-Unknown CD/LP/Track Review Known-Unknown
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: January 22, 2017
Read "Closer To The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Closer To The Sun
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Parallax" CD/LP/Track Review Parallax
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 21, 2016
Read "Sounds of 3" CD/LP/Track Review Sounds of 3
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 18, 2016
Read "Some Morning" CD/LP/Track Review Some Morning
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: March 2, 2016
Read "Problemas" CD/LP/Track Review Problemas
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: February 17, 2016
Read "Long After Midnight" CD/LP/Track Review Long After Midnight
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Get Jazz Near You via email!

Enjoy the convenience of receiving a comprehensive listing of jazz events in your area every Thursday. It's free!