Ryan Cavanaugh exits Soulgrass

Jazz and progressive 5 string banjo player Ryan Cavanaugh has announced his exit from Bill Evans Soulgrass, a hybrid effort by noted sax man Evans to blend funk, jazz and bluegrass grooves.

Ryan Cavanaugh“After 9 years, over 25 countries, and thousands of airline miles logged, I have decided to depart amicably from Bill Evans Soulgrass. Alongside Bill Evans (saxophone) I had the opportunity to bring bluegrass music and the 5-string banjo to a world stage and to ears on whom they may never have fallen. When Béla Fleck and John McLaughlin (fusion guitarist) recommended me in 2005, I departed North Carolina to engage on an adventure that few banjo players will get to experience. While playing with Soulgrass I was privileged to tour and make records with Béla Fleck, Sam Bush, Victor Wooten, Warren Haynes, John Medeski, John Popper, and many others. As my education in music continues, this particular journey ends.

I feel extremely fortunate to have temporarily explored beyond bluegrass music as a genre and to have entered the international jazz circuit as a banjo player. I’ve studied jazz harmony and theory under some of the greatest living jazz players; people who played with Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and John McLaughlin. At times I was concerned that my bluegrass playing would suffer, but I fully immersed myself in this once-in-a-lifetime education. Little did I know that it would make me a better and more creative bluegrass player than I ever could have imagined.

Having emerged enlightened and fulfilled from my experience, I now have a greater appreciation for both jazz and bluegrass music, and I am especially very excited to get back in touch with my roots in bluegrass.”

Ryan says that he will be going back and forth between New York and North Carolina for the time being, and working on a duo project bridging rock and bluegrass music. He will be booking performances with that project soon for 2015 and 2016.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.