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Music News 10/15/2014

Folk Masters young and old

CD CoverMac Wiseman, Songs from My Mother’s Hand (Wrinkled Records, $14.99) – In this heartfelt project, Mac Wiseman—who sang in the pioneering bands of Flatt and Scruggs and Bill Monroe—goes back to an era before the birth of bluegrass. In the 1930s, Mr. Wiseman’s mother wrote down the lyrics of her favorite radio songs in a series of composition books. Mr. Wiseman sings some favorites from her collection—such as “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues,” “You’re a Flower Blooming in the Wildwood,” “The Wreck of the Number Nine” among them—in sweet and spare arrangements. NPR had a good interview with Mr. Wiseman.

CD CoverAlice Gerrard, Follow the Music (Tompkins Square, $13.98) – Alice Gerrard recorded some classic bluegrass and old time music with Hazel Dickens (Who’s That Knocking in 1965, Hazel & Alice in 1973), as well as solo albums, and collaborations with Mike Seeger. Musician (and fan) M.C. Taylor persuaded Ms Gerrard to sing some of her original songs and traditional ballads (and revisit others), and surrounded her with sweet fiddles, banjos and guitars. Mr. Taylor notes that he wanted to “make a record that illuminated some dark corners, and Alice knows a few things about darkness.” They have made a very modern “old-time” album.

CD CoverBéla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn (Rounder, $15.98) – Béla Fleck has pushed the banjo into new territories (new-grass, fusion jazz, classical) and collaborated with string players from around the world. Abigail Washburn came to the banjo from an old-time tradition, but was also influenced by her time in China. They married a while ago, and offer their first album collaboration. Among Abigail’s contributions are a minor key take on “(I’ve Been Working on a) Railroad,” and an retributive answer song to the many Appalachian murder ballads; Béla arranges his “New South Africa” and a selection from Bartók’s For Children for dual banjos. A wonderful collaborative album.

NOTE: Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn will be in concert at Lisner Auditorium, on Friday, October 31.

CD CoverDon Flemons, Prospect Hill (Music Maker Relief Foundation, $13.98) – Don Flemons was one of the founders of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, who reinvigorated and updated the African American string band tradition. Flemons (who sings, plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, and bones) is now a solo act, and  jumps into his mix of  “ragtime, Piedmont blues, spirituals, southern folk music, string band music, jug band music, fife and drum music, and ballads” with full abandon.


Dobro superstar Jerry Douglas has released two special projects:

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Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas, Rob Ickes, Three Bells (Rounder, $15.98) – Doulas wanted to pay tribute to Seldom Scene dobro player Mike Auldridge (who died after finishing this album). Douglas and Rob Ickes were both inspired by Mr. Auldridge, and this dobro extravaganza is a fitting tribute.

The Earls of Leicester, The Earls of Leicester (Rounder, $15.98) – Douglas also heads up the tribute band (with its punning moniker) to (Lester) Flatt and (Earl) Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys—pre-eminent in the 1950s and ’60s. Shawn Camp, guitar and vocals, Tim O’Brien, mandolin and vocals, Douglas on dobro, Charlie Cushman, banjo, Johnny Warren, fiddle, and Barry Bales on bass head up the all-star jam.


Gramophone Classical Music Awards 2014

Every fall, the critics of the British classical music magazine Gramophone select the best recordings of the past year (extending back to late 2013). Here are some of the winners:

Record of the Year & Orchestral:

Brahms: The Symphonies (Decca, 3 CDs) – Riccardo Chailly, Gewandhaus Orchestra

Schubert: String Quartet No 14, “Death and the Maiden” & String Quintet (Supraphon, 2 CDs) – Pavel Haas Quartet


Prokofiev: Piano Concertos Nos 1 – 5 (Chandos, 2 CDs) – Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, piano, BBC Philharmonic, Gianandrea Noseda, conductor


Arise, My Muse (Wigmore Hall Live) – Iestyn Davies, countertenor, Richard Egarr, harpsichord, “and friends”
Solo Vocal: 

Schubert: Winterreise (Sony Classical) – Jonas Kaufmann, tenor, Helmut Deutsch, piano

Mozart: Requiem (Linn) – Dunedin Consort with soloists, John Butt, conductor
Early Music:

Marenzio: Primo Libro di Madrigali 1580 (Glossa) – La Compagnia del Madrigale
Baroque Instrumental:

CPE Bach: Wurttemberg Sonatas (Hyperion) – Mahan Esfahani, harpsichord
Baroque Vocal:

CPE Bach: Magnificat (Harmonia Mundi) – Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, RIAS Chamber Choir, with soloists Elizabeth Watts and Wiebke Lehmkuhl