Jazz Banjo: Rodeoscopique & Tucksy

Kurt Gottschalk By

Sign in to view read count

Les Disques Audiogramme

Let's Start the Show

It seems at last the banjo's long winter (or perpetual summer, perhaps) may be over. With such practitioners about as Eugene Chadbourne, Joe Morris and Brandon Seabrook (to name a few), the plucky little box might finally be getting past a reputation born of Steve Martin and Deliverance. Martin (who recently put out his own banjo record) once said that you can't be sad and play the banjo. He may well have known of mournful traditions from Texas to the Appalachians, but he didn't do the instrument any favors.

Quebecois guitarist Antoine Berthiaume is the latest to add the banjo as a second axe, and uses it to great effect with his septet Rodeoscopique. The instrument doesn't dominate the album—he spends more time here with electric and Dobro guitars—but his understated finger-picking does open the disc and sets the high lonesome mood for the free-range Americana he wrote for the band. Berthiaume has previously recorded with Derek Bailey, Fred Frith and Elliott Sharp, pretty solidly establishing his improv pedigree, but as a composer he shows a very different side, closer to the smooth complexities of Bill Frisell's recent work than the knotty improvisations he's released on Montreal's Ambiances Magnetiques. The band—comprised of reeds, violin, pedal steel guitar, bass and drums, and the cello of Melanie Auclair (who has her own solid Ambiances Magnetiques record) is wonderfully elastic, moody and evocative.

Tuey Connell's five-string plays a more prominent role in the debut release by vibraphonist Dan McCarthy's quartet Tucksy. McCarthy's tunes are, for the most part, unabashedly chipper and steeped in jazz. Despite the unusual line-up, it's easy to hear the sweet tunes as if played by sax and guitar with rhythm section which, given the limited sustain of the banjo, says something about the precision in Connell's playing. The band has a light, cinematic quality which is quite nice at times, even if they undermine their strengths in their use of cover versions (The Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black" and the theme from the TV show Law & Order), and cover art (a "wild and crazy guys" band portrait). They may be a bit romantic comedy to Rodeoscopique's western drifter, but when they're on they still nail it pretty well.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Autan noir; Alamo; Tumbleweed; Autan blanc; Eperons d'argent; Loo; Ljuke; Les chamins de la route; Wishing Well; Chocolatero

Personnel: Antoine Berthiaume: guitar, banjo; Phillipe Lauzier: bass clarinet, alto saxophone; Buido del Pabbro: violin; Stefan Schneider: percussion; Pierre-Yves Martel: bass; Rick Haworth: pedal steel guitar Let's Start the Show

Tracks: Tucksy's Theme; Loblues; Nothing is Lost; Tu's Blues; Oban at Four; Paint it Black; Petra's Song; Simply Put; The Mysterious Disappearance of Sir Randolph Buckminster; Untitled Film; Theme from Law & Order; Lack of Colour; Land of the Silver Birch

Personnel: Dan McCarthy: vibraphone; Tuey Connell: banjo; Dan Loomis: bass; Fred Kennedy: drums


More Articles

Read New, Notable and Nearly Missed Multiple Reviews New, Notable and Nearly Missed
by Phil Barnes
Published: January 25, 2017
Read Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas Multiple Reviews Blues Deluxe: Colin James, Matthew Curry and Johnny Nicholas
by Doug Collette
Published: January 14, 2017
Read Weekertoft Hits Its Stride… Multiple Reviews Weekertoft Hits Its Stride…
by John Eyles
Published: January 7, 2017
Read Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio Multiple Reviews Ivo Perelman: The Art of the Improv Trio
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 4, 2017
Read 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon Multiple Reviews 2016: An Ivo Perelman Marathon
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 3, 2017
Read Pi Recordings 2016 Releases Multiple Reviews Pi Recordings 2016 Releases
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: December 24, 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!