David Royko Psy.D

Tony Trischka, Jayme Stone, CD reviews


Tony Trischka: Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular
Jayme Stone: The Utmost (jaymestone.com)

It was no accident that Tony Trischka became Bela
Fleck’s teacher--by the time the student sought him
out for tutelage in the 1970s, Trischka had already
become the major figure in the world of progressive
banjo. Since then, through a series of solo albums, he
has explored the roots of the instrument all the way
back to Africa and fronted a rocking electric band.
His latest is aptly titled Double Banjo Bluegrass
Spectacular, that last word being, if anything, an
understatement. Paired with Fleck, Earl Scruggs, Steve
Martin (yes, the comic/actor), Alison Brown, Noam
Pikelny, Scott Vestal, Kenny Ingram, Tom Adams, and
Bill Emerson, and backed by bands that include pickers
like Sam Bush and Chris Thile, this
mostly-instrumental album is a stunner, anchored by
bluegrass but stretching well into newgrass territory,
with “Twilight Kingdom,” featuring Fleck, standing as
perhaps the most spectacular of all. Newcommer Jayme
Stone is a banjoist who has learned well the lessons
of Trischka and Fleck, and has come up with a
distinctive approach to newgrass. What sets him apart,
besides his fine composing, is Stone’s use of trumpet
and English horn in his ensemble. The slightly
introspective quality of Stone’s group on “Tungsten,”
with Kevin Turcotte’s tasty yet understated trumpet,
is reminiscent of moody jazz masterpieces like Booker
Little’s Out Front, about as far from bluegrass as
Kentucky is from New York.
David Royko