109

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

Mark Corroto By

Sign in to view read count
Andy Biskin Quartet: Early American: The Melodies Of Stephen Foster From the bandstand, the leader calls out, "...and now, folks, we're going to play you a tune written 150 years ago. Wait. What? Are you kidding? Nobody wants to hear the Britney Spears track that was huge five years ago!

But then again, in the cultural evolutionary battle of the fittest, the music of Stephen Foster (1826-64) continues to survive. "Camptown Races, "Oh!, Susanna, and "Old Folks At Home swim upstream into the collective consciousness of generation after generation. While never considering the source of these musical expressions, they form the basis of an ongoing dialogue. They finish statements like a shave and a haircut... two bits.

Clarinetist Andy Biskin's quartet with guitar/banjo, tuba/trombone, and percussion slides into this music like an old glove. The band does take liberties, as any good jazz improviser is licensed to do, but at the heart of this recording is the American musical landscape. Biskin's 2000 recording Dogmental (GM) was a superb introduction to his sharp wit and his composing.

With this project, he meshes six originals with Stephen Foster compositions which remind listeners that they probably first heard this music as soundtracks to cartoons or as parts of black-and-white movies. His quartet of very sympathetic players deals with the humor, but very little camp. Guitarist Pete McCann is quite the chameleon, switching from rock to rhumba and swing to fusion without breaking a sweat, while the most clever drummer working today, John Hollenbeck, is a master of propelling the odd instrumentation. Biskin also employs Chris Washburne as his timekeeper on tuba and alter ego on trombone.

They remake "Beautiful Dreamer with cascading repetition, and the very straight rendition of "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair is downright hummable. "Camptown Races swings with an almost urban smartness. We all somehow know these songs. While listening, I continue to picture Yosemite Sam (of Warner Brothers cartoon fame) strolling into some saloon to be thoroughly embarrassed by one very rascally rabbit.


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: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Tales From A Forbidden Land" CD/LP/Track Review Tales From A Forbidden Land
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 1, 2017
Read "The River" CD/LP/Track Review The River
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 16, 2016
Read "Countdown" CD/LP/Track Review Countdown
by Doug Collette
Published: September 17, 2016
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "Shelter" CD/LP/Track Review Shelter
by Budd Kopman
Published: June 15, 2016
Read "Sarabande" CD/LP/Track Review Sarabande
by Budd Kopman
Published: March 3, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!