The legendary New York jazz club, Blue Note, will host six days of jazz/bluegrass fusion next month. Bill Evans’ Soulgrass is booked January 23-28, with Sam Bush on mandolin and Tony Trischka on banjo. They join noted jazz saxophonist Evans with Dave Wecki on drums, Richard Bona on bass and Christian Howes on fiddle.
Evans’ jazz pedigree is pristine, having recorded and performed with Miles Davis in the 1980s. The notion of mixing jazz and bluegrass spun around in his mind for some time, coming to fruition with the 2005 Soulgrass CD, which featured Bela Fleck, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas and Sam Bush along with Evans and such prominent jazzers as John Scofield and Mark Egan.
“I’ve been an Americana fan ever since my Miles days. I liked the sound of mandolin, banjo, dobro and fiddle and I thought that music had a very cool rhythmic approach, even though I never really knew the names of the players or the tunes. I had been listening to some Americana and bluegrass stuff for quite some time. I had some Bill Monroe CDs at home as well as recordings by Bruce Hornsby, the Flecktones, Sam Bush, Mark O’Conner. Music of that genre was very inspiring to me. Bluegrass and jazz are very similar in so many ways. As a jazz musician, it’s all just a different way to improvise and express yourself. I find it very exciting to combine both kinds of music. It is a dream of mine to play on stage at the Blue Note with all these great musicians and create some totally new music!”
Samples of Soulgrass can be heard on the Bill Evans site. Full details on the show can be found on the Blue Note web site.