Another fine Flying Fish album of bluegrass-meets-jazz. Larry McNeely was a lifetime session player and backup man to schlocky musicians (Glen Campbell, Roy Acuff, et all), this album shows he really had some ideas in addition to his sparkling chops. His banjo picking is very chromatic and exploratory, delving into jazz and eastern european musics while maintaining the piledriving rhythmic force of Earl Scruggs. One of the tracks (Space Circus) actually sounds decently close to the Peter Lang end of the Takoma spectrum of fingerpicking guitar.
AMG Review by Eugene Chadbourne:
That this guy is one of the flashiest and technically adept banjo pickers around would be a fact many bluegrass fans would be happy to wager a set of fingerpicks or two over. Many tracks on this album are simply killer, and the presence of mandolinist Jethro Burns will definitely be of interest to listeners who would like to hear more of his fine, serious picking outside the wacky confines of the famous Homer and Jethro unit. The originals by McNeely, highlighting fast-moving developments with a particularly aggressive sense of time, would predict the later work of artists such as Bela Fleck, and younger fans of this latter artist should definitely check out the playing of artists such as McNeely who have received a whole lot less hype in their lifetime. However it is something of a shame that McNeely also chose to play guitar in a hot jazz or swing style, his work vastly in the debt of jazz picker supreme Django Reinhardt, to whom he dedicates a tune. When it comes to these tracks the music is just much less original and exciting, unless the listener is a bluegrass fanatic who has never heard any other styles of music before, in which case it might be difficult to predict what the reaction might be. Nashville session king Roy Husky is solid on bass, no doubt smoking a cigar the whole time.
Larry McNeely – Rhapsody for Banjo
Label: Flying Fish
bedazzled. [re-post 12-08]
not my rip (vinyl) | mp3 128kbps | no cover (and none can be found on the interweb) | 31mb
also see Norman Blake/Vassar Clements/Tut Taylor/Jethro Burns/Dave Holland/et all for more great bluegrass jazz from Flying Fish.