Track Premiere: Strasbourg / St. Denis from Tray Wellington

Mountain Home Music has dropped a third single for banjoist Tray Wellington, an ambitious cover of a jazz standard by a five stringer.

A good many bluegrass instrumentalists are drawn to jazz sounds, as that genre is where the most fearless improvisers live and breath. Bluegrass is an improvisational form as well, though typically guided by a greater degree of structure, with an audience less welcoming of harmonic adventurism. But a solo project is just the place to stretch out and experiment, and is welcome here.

Playing jazz well requires both physical dexterity and a wide knowledge of chord and scale basics. These are taught, of course, in music schools, and as we see more graduates of such programs gravitate towards bluegrass, we can expect to find them exploring applications for that understanding in their grass.

Wellington is still a young artist, a recent graduate of the bluegrass school at ETSU, and he has chosen an easygoing tune for this escapade, Strasbourg / St. Denis, by trumpeter Roy Hargrove. It was included on Roy’s 2008 album, Earfood, and named for an underground subway stop in Paris.

For Tray, cutting a version of this tune has been on his mind for some time.

“As a longtime jazz fan. I see Roy Hargrove as a staple, and a legend in the music. I knew from the first time I heard this song that I wanted to record it some day, and with this crew playing on the session, I knew this would be the perfect time to do it!”

Tray is supported by fellow jazz-inspired grassers Jon Stickley on guitar and Lyndsay Pruett on fiddle, with Wayne Benson on mandolin, and Kevin Kehrberg on bass.

Have a listen.

Strasbourg / St. Denis by Tray Wellington is available now wherever you stream or download music online. It will also be included on his upcoming full length album with Mountain Home Music.

Radio programmers can download the track at AirPlay Direct.

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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.