Soulgrass preview in Wall Street Journal

We posted last month about a week of club dates in New York for Bill Evans’ Soulgrass. This is Bill Evans the jazz sax man who has been recording and performing an interesting jazz/bluegrass fusion, not our friend Bill Evans the bluegrass banjo player and instructor.

The shows will be at the fabled Blue Note starting tonight (1/23-28), and will feature Tony Trischka and Sam Bush along with the other members of Soulgrass.

Craig Havighurst, who blogs at String Theory Media, wrote a piece for today’s Wall Street Journal as a preview for the Evans shows this week. In addition to his overview of the Soulgrass sound, and comments from Evans and Trischka, Craig discusses some of the reasons why bluegrass and jazz aren’t such distant cousins as they may seem at first glance.

In fact, bluegrass and jazz, particularly bebop, are musical contemporaries and cousins—progressive departures from the dominant sounds of their day, forged during World War II. Both drew a line between the traditional and the modern in their respective forms. Even musically there were similarities, beginning with common roots in the blues. Both were inclined toward blazing tempos, rhythmic intricacies and intense, even competitive improvisation, suggesting that these schools, despite coming from cultures as distant and disparate as 1940s New York and 1940s Nashville, might one day meet and mingle to good effect.

The Journal site can not be accessed without a subscription, but the entire piece can be found on Craig’s site.

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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.