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Andy Biskin: Songs from the Alan Lomax Collection

Read "Songs from the Alan Lomax Collection" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

Alan Lomax's (1915-2002) field recordings and research heightened our awareness of folk music, i.e. Americana. He reintroduced many of us to our cultural origins where other musical genres received their humble beginnings. Shortly after graduating college, clarinetist, composer Andy Biskin was Lomax's research assistant. And here, the artist revisits the aura of Lomax's lifelong plight and efforts by forging a union with folk, jazz, classical and manifold interpretations that intimate little big band-like arrangements. The clarinetist and trumpeters ...

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Andy Biskin 16 Ton: Songs from the Alan Lomax Collection

Read "Songs from the Alan Lomax Collection" reviewed by Mark Corroto

Maybe you're not the type of American comfortable shouting “USA...USA...USA!" at sporting events. You might though, reconsider the prohibition after listening to clarinetist Andy Biskin and 16 Tons' Songs From The Alan Lomax Collection. If you know your history you're aware the ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, beginning just before WWII, recorded (and preserved) folk and blues music in North America. Criss-crossing the states, he safeguarded our traditional music, much of which would have been lost to time. Consider, for a moment, ...

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Andy Biskin's Ibid: Act Necessary

Read "Act Necessary" reviewed by Dave Wayne

A working jazz musician in New York City and environs since 1991, clarinetist, composer, and filmmaker Andy Biskin is a modern-day Renaissance Man. The Texas native was already a fixture in San Antonio's polka scene (yes, people, this is a thing) as a teenager, Biskin attended Yale where he double-majored in music and anthropology. Later, he joined the staff of the legendary folklorist Alan Lomax. While working as an independent videographer and video producer / director, fate intervened and a ...

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Andy Biskin Ibid: Act Necessary

Read "Act Necessary" reviewed by Glenn Astarita

Act Necessary is clarinetist-composer Andy Biskin's fifth album, where he integrates the jazz idiom into Americana, slapstick fare, funk and other disparate genres. He's an artist who stands out among his peers as he goes against the grain, while always mingling wit and whimsy into his overall musicality. Biskin's amiable and bubbly clarinet work forges an entryway into off-center rhythmic exercises amid a good-timey vibe; however, his music is not saccharine or schmaltzy. And he employs an all-star unit on ...

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

Read "Early American: The Melodies of Stephen Foster" reviewed by George Kanzler

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 ...

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Andy Biskin: Trio Tragico

Read "Trio Tragico" reviewed by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

Andy Biskin spins a musical tragicomedy on Trio Tragico. With Dave Ballou (trumpet) and Drew Gress (bass), he presents a melancholic but discretely jovial blend of chamber music and exciting new rhythms. The clarinetist's live set at Cornelia Street Café in early October captured the electricity of the trio. The improvisational bits of the performance were clean and affable, without tonal contradictions or awkward transitions. Onstage, Biskin seemed to be just as comfortable talking about his songs ...

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

Read "Early American: The Melodies of Stephen Foster" reviewed by Jeff Dayton-Johnson

In the October 2006 issue of Jazzman magazine, Vincent Bessières documents the explosion of jazz renditions of compositions by Björk, pointing to versions by artists like Geoff Keezer, Marcin Wasilewski, Greg Osby, Eric Legnini, Jason Moran, Larry Goldings and Dave Douglas. (If he'd waited another month or so, he could have included a lovely reading of “New World" on Florian Weber's new trio record Minsarah, Enja/Justin Time, 2006.) Jazz musicians' salutary interest in Björk's songs reflects a ...

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

Read "Early American: The Melodies Of Stephen Foster" reviewed by Jim Santella

Clarinetist Andy Biskin leads his creative quartet through an interesting program of Stephen Foster songs and several originals. As much as possible, he's tried to capture the composer's original intentions.

Stephen Collins Foster (1826-64) was born and raised just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in the North. His songs, however, reflected life along the Mississippi River of the old South. His work for his brother's steamship company in Cincinnati undoubtedly had a large influence on the songwriter's trade. He ...

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

Read "Early American: The Melodies Of Stephen Foster" reviewed by Mark Corroto

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 ...

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

Read "Early American: The Melodies of Stephen Foster" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

The songs of Stephen Foster (1826-64) seem to have seeped into our American DNA, especially for those of us of a certain age. We sang “Oh! Susanna," “Old Folks," “Camptown Races" and other Foster gems in elementary school--badly, if memory serves me, with an unrestrained, window-rattling youthful gusto on “Oh! Susanna." Those melodies are part of us now.New York-based clarinetist Andy Biskin discovered the simple beauty and straightforward storytelling aspects of Foster's melodies after a chance playing of ...

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Andy Biskin: Trio Tragico

Read "Trio Tragico" reviewed by Troy Collins

Released in tandem with Early American (an exploration of the music of Stephen Foster), Trio Tragico showcases clarinetist Andy Biskin working within the confines of an unconventional chamber-jazz trio. With characteristic wit, the composer delivers an album that is not nearly as melodramatic as the title implies.

Biskin enjoys a sublime foil in the rich and classically pure trumpet of Dave Ballou. Ubiquitous Downtown bassist Drew Gress is the fulcrum on which the two horn players pivot. With ...

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

Read "Early American: The Melodies of Stephen Foster" reviewed by Troy Collins

On Early American, clarinetist Andy Biskin sets off for a good-natured romp through the Stephen Foster songbook. Tackling such distinctive material, associated with the countrified jazz crossover typically favored by iconic guitarist Bill Frisell, risks unfair comparison. But while Frisell has a quirky bent to his voicings and arrangements, Biskin is far more mischievous. He never transforms these chestnuts into clownish throwaways, yet his interpretations are anything but slavishly traditional.

The bulk of the program consists of classic ...


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