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Inspired by the PBS television series about the U.S. Civil War, this solo album by pianist Bill Carrothers' presents American patriotic tunes in a somber straightforward manner. Adding his personal thoughts on the war's meaning to society, the pianist embellishes melodies here, deepens harmonies there, and provides textural changes appropriate to his interpretation.
While most of the selections are offered in a traditional straightforward manner, several receive obvious changes. The familiar "Dixie" gets a heartfelt dissonant harmonic restructuring that evokes emotional reactions far different from those normally associated with the anthem. Rather than inviting patriotic joy, the altered tunes may convey feelings of helplessness, despair, sorrow, or even fear. While "The Yellow Rose of Texas" is presented in a simple straightforward manner, "All Quiet Along The Potomac" receives the infusion of dissonant tonal relationships, which may indicate that the quiet along the river isn't what it seems to be. For "John Brown's Body" Carrothers employs a melodica to properly express the sorrow and grief that stemmed from both sides of that conflict.
"Kingdom Coming" is offered as a jazz presentation, and both "7th Cavalry March," and "Battle Cry of Freedom (Reprise)" contain jazz sections with tremolos, bent notes, syncopation, and improvised phrases. Carrothers, long time professional jazz pianist and history student, has put his personal touch on the songs that carried America through a tragic period in history. You can find more information about The Blues And The Greys on Bill Carrothers' web page athttp://www.carrothers.com/ .
Track Listing: Tenting on the Old Campground; Battle Cry of Freedom; 7th Cavalry March; Angel Band; Dixie; Marching Through Georgia; Flag of Columbia; John Brown's Body; All Quiet Along the Potomac; Lorena; Yellow Rose of Texas; Bonnie Blue Flag; Carry Me Back to Old Virginia; Battle Cry of Freedom (Reprise); Somebody's Darling; Marching Through Georgia (Reprise); The Vacant Chair; Kingdom Coming; Weeping Sad and Lonely; Hard Times Come Again No More; Jordan Is a Hard Road to Travel.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.