Dapple Patti is the title of a new CD release from the duo of Alan Munde and Adam Granger. Recorded during April 2011 in Minnesota where Granger lives, the two longtime friends tracked five songs in the studio, with the remaining twelve songs captured at two concerts they performed in Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN.
Alan Munde is a legend in bluegrass, from his days as one of Jimmy Martin’s Sunny Mountain Boys, his 20+ years with Country Gazette, and his leadership of the bluegrass program at South Plains College in Texas. Adam Granger, although perhaps less familiar to the eastern bluegrass establishment, has had a long and successful career as a guitarist, vocalist, composer, and teacher in the midwest (including his membership in the Powdermilk Biscuit Band, the original house band for A Prairie Home Companion).
As has marked Alan Munde’s career, this recording features a mixture of bluegrass, blues, jazz, and folk — played with Alan’s singular ability to deftly blend Scruggs, melodic, and single-string banjo techniques. If Munde had never recorded anything but the Country Gazette album Don’t Give Up Your Day Job, his place in the history of bluegrass banjo playing would be secure, dispelling the myth that the melodic style requires a light touch and can’t be played with power and drive.
Granger ably plays rhythm guitar on straight ahead songs like Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms and John Hardy, but sounds equally at home playing blues rhythms and guitar leads on Mother Earth, as well as jazz rhythms and chord progressions on Sabrosa and Sermonette. He likewise demonstrates an ability vocally to handle diverse material — bluegrass, folk, jazz, and blues.
While I would love to hear Alan in a band setting again, only someone of his ability (and there are precious few) could carry off a CD with two musicians, primarily one solo instrument, and one voice, and retain the listener’s interest throughout. The material has been selected and sequenced with this in mind, but what is most remarkable is the skill and versatility Munde demonstrates at filling the aural space normally occupied by other instruments (with interesting solos and backup), without repeating himself.
Making this collection all the more remarkable is the fact that with only a guitar accompaniment and no other lead instruments on most selections, Alan has nowhere to hide or rest in pulling off virtuoso performances live. He performs nearly flawlessly (we hate to ever see or hear our heroes stumble, but they are human after all).
This CD is recommended for listeners who appreciate a variety of music and have a particular affinity for the banjo.