- 01 Aug 01
Are you ready for the jazz-bluegrass fusion? ALISON BROWN prepares SIOBHÁN LONG
Southern California might not be the first place you’d look to for ground-breaking bluegrass musicians, who run their own record label, who push the boundaries of the much-maligned banjo, and who know their jazz just as well as their bluegrass. But then again Alison Brown’s not a woman to conform to expectations. Former member of Alison Krauss’ Union Station, and bandleader with Michelle Shocked, she’s never been shy of change – or challenges for that matter.
The Alison Brown Quartet have recently finished a tour of the country, wending their way from Dublin’s Cobblestone to Listowel, Belfast, Tyrone and Galway. This is jazz with a hint of bluegrass like you’ve never heard before. Wielding a banjo like it’s an instrument of calculus, Brown manages to eke all manner of unlikely sounds out of it. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs might have been her bluegrass musical heroes growing up, but this player’s redefining the instrument almost single-handedly. Or, at least with the help of the three very fine musicians who keep her company in the ABQ (Alison Brown Quartet) actually.
This is a sound that’s not just alien to our ears, she admits.