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The press release accompanying this CD states that the Tin Hat Trio is "America's premier chamber-jazz ensemble", and this after only making two records together. So, Tin Hat must be the best thing since cornflakes, right? Well, that depends on your point of view. The trio consists of accordionist and pianist Rob Burger, violinist Carla Kihlstedt, and guitarist Mark Orton. All are classically trained, and technically proficient, and all have experience playing a wide variety of styles, including folk, jazz, and pop music. This, their second effort on the Angel label, entitled Helium , features a set of originals by it's three members, and is augmented by a guest appearance by Tom Waits on one of the tracks. The music on this disc is certainly new and different in that the trio plays a variety of instruments not common in either chamber music or jazz. When listening to this CD, instruments like the harmonica, dobro, banjo, and marxophone?...jump right out at you.
Just on a sound basis alone, the music is quite interesting due to the group's employ of all acoustic, highly resonant instruments. There is a way in which the trio combine styles and genre's, at times, within one piece. The trio incorporate a tapestry of bluegrass, folk, and tango into a program that is as accessible to an Iowa farmhand as it is to a New England church organist. The overall result, is a music that speaks to a new generation of people that listen to neither classical, nor jazz; but rather to music that has fibers and threads of a multiplicity of musical styles, from within our own culture, and around the world. A jazz or classical purist might find this music unrefined or unchallenging, but that's not the point. The fact is, the three musicians that make up Tin Hat Trio decided that they were going to do something different than what everybody else is doing, and they did it. That takes a lot of courage, and they should be commended for that.
Track Listing: A Life In East Poultney; Helium; Beverly's March, Scrap; Sand Dog Blues; Fountain Of Youth; Slip; Width Of The World; Seamstress Extraordinaire; Esperanto; Big Blue House; Old Grey Mare; Brennero; Anna Kournikova; Helium Reprise
Personnel: Rob Burger (accordion, piano, pump organ, marxophone, harmonica) Carla Kihlstedt (violin, viola); Mark Orton (guitar, dobra, banjo) and on Helium Reprise; Tom Waits (vocals)