2008 Release from amazing bassoonist Paul Hanson. What the unbelievable Hanson does on bassoon -- an exceedingly difficult instrument to play and one almost exclusively associated with classical music -- is akin to what other innovators like guitarists Charlie Hunter and Stanley Jordan, banjoist Bela Fleck and bassist Jaco Pastorius have done with their respective instruments. Like those musical revolutionaries, Hanson has created a vibrant new, expansive vocabulary through a combination of virtuosity, vision and soul, as he demonstrates so profoundly on Frolic in the Land of Plenty.
By electrifying his double reed instrument and incorporating elements of bebop, fusion, Bulgarian, ambient and rock-fueled grunge, the Bay Area bassoonist pushes the envelope on what his notoriously unwieldy instrument can do. Violinist Darol Anger of the Turtle Island String Quartet once likened what Hanson does to winning the Kentucky Derby on a camel. That perfectly describes his ability to blow with uncommon fluidity and expressiveness on jazzy fare like Parallax" and the gently swinging 3/4 number Sacred Love," or with such remarkable over-the-barline abandon as he demonstrates on the exotic and slamming Dark Soul."
Drummer Dennis Chambers whips up a whirlwind of intensity on Subtle Demons," an Bulgarian flavored fusion romp which sounds like a page out of the Shakti book and highlights Hanson emulating an Indian vina with his non-tempered bassoon work. On the blazing fusion vehicle Emerald Mile," his electric bassoon flurries on a labyrinth of intricate unisons with violinist Tracy Silverman sound like a wailing electric guitar (Hansons scorching solo at the tag sounds more like Steve Vai than any bassoon player youve ever heard). And on the fuzz-laden grunge anthem Scrool," Hanson and crew summon up the heavy metal assault of Black Sabbath's Iron Man."
Elsewhere, the bassoon virtuoso flaunts impeccable intonation and precision chops on a startling duet with pandeiro player Caito Marcondes on Brazilian composer Jacob Do Bandolim's sprightly choro Flight of the Fly"(an opening as stunningly audacious as Jaco Pastorius opening his solo debut with a bass-conga rendition of Charlie Parker's Donna Lee"). And on the swinging, Brecker Brothers influenced Goof Troop," Hanson plays his second horn, tenor sax, with equal conviction, chops and inspiration. This is earth-shaking stuff by a musical renegade who is clearly forging a new path on a most unusual instrument
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