Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Jazzgrass

Some things obviously go together like chocolate and peanut butter, or broccoli raab and sharp provolone. Some of these pairings are as old as time immemorial. But Brian Aust's Woodwarblers Jazzgrass radio show was a "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!" moment for me. The WGDR/WGDH website describes it thusly
"Often thematic and always illuminating, JazzGrass offers listeners fabulous sounds of bluegrass, jazz and artists that blend these along with other styles together.  If you’ve been craving a radio show featuring outstanding music that typically never receives airplay, tune in to WGDR on Monday evenings."
 I had never considered the pairing of bluegrass and jazz before. Country and jazz split away from each other on the tree a long time ago and represent different species of music today. The Jazzgrass program pairs them together in ways that are alternately unnatural and amazing. You can see some playlists here.

Here is an example hour with my annotations:
Alison Krauss and Union Station - My Love Follows You Wherever You Go (AAA)
Slavek Hanzlik - Summer Solstice (bluegrass)
The Wayfaring Strangers - June Apple (folk)
Béla Fleck & The Flecktones - Life In Eleven (bluegrass/fusion)
Bireli Lagrene - Viper's Dream (guitar jazz)
Bob Brozman, David Grisman & Mike Auldridge - Crazy Rhythm (solo banjo)
Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra - Mojo Strut (dixieland)
Charles Mingus, Hampton Hawes & Danny Richmond - Summertime (bebop)
Errol Garner - You Made Me Love You (piano jazz)

Other shows have klezmer bands, Django, Stan Getz, Benny Goodman, Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Medeski Martin & Wood, Johnny Cash, Calexico and of course Tom Waits. The program sometimes divides a two hour slot more cleanly into jazz and bluegrass dipping more deeply into the disparate sub-genres of each. But his programs are best served when the playlist develops, crescendos and maneuvers through the related dark corners and closets that they all share. If you find yourself in Barre, Vermont I'd advise you to tune to 91.1 or 91.7 on Monday nights and give it a listen.