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May 24, 2010

Kenny Kosek and Matt Glaser - Hasty Lonesome

Boy, once I get started on a theme I can't stop! Especially when it involves newgrass players, because every time I look at one it leads me to another. These guys have been in the scene since the Country Cooking days, and show up on all the other guys' projects (Statman, Trischka, Barenberg, etc.) This next album is on some people's top-10 New Acoustic albums of all time. Very original, very sparkling, very out-of-print. All the names which should be familiar to you by now stop in to lend their wildly imaginative hands to the task of making original acoustic music.

The name Kenny Kosek may seem unfamiliar to you. His is a case of someone whose fiddling has been heard by nearly everyone but his name by only a precious few. But those who've heard his playing beyond his relatively anonymous work for advertising jingles and Broadway musicals know Kosek as one of the core members of a group of New York-based innovators in the area of progressive bluegrass music since the 1970s. Up until now, most of his more prominent recorded legacy has been with the trailblazing bands Breakfast Special and Country Cooking, as well as his out-of-print Rounder LP collaboration with swing fiddler Matt Glaser, Hasty Lonesome.

Kenny Kosek is one of the most recorded fiddlers in America today, having been the feature soloist on hundreds of albums, soundtracks, and jingles. He can be heard on recordings by James Taylor, Jerry Garcia, David Byrne, Chaka Kahn, Willie Nelson, and John Denver. He has been a frequent guest player with the Late Night Band on Late Night with David Letterman. Kenny's distinctive roots music-inspired compositions have been used in the documentaries The Way West, The Donner Party, Harlan County, U.S.A., The High Lonesome Sound, and the Broadway musicals Big River and Foxfire, NBC's Another World, CBS's Guiding Light, and Fox's Kirby Kids. His most recent CD, Angelwood on Rounder Records was called "a lovely piece of work with a strong hint of the spiritual" (David Hinkley, Daily News); "an album that will surprise and delight fans of fiddle music in all its many forms" (Bluegrass Unlimited); and "Kosek's signature sound—a swinging, smooth, and creamy hot rise that is as hard as it rocks, has exponentially enhanced every project he's lent it to" (Village Voice).

Matt Glaser is the only tenured professor of violin in the United States who specializes in jazz, folk and swing instead of classical music. Matt has appeared on over thirty recordings, is the head of the string department at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and co-authored the book "Jazz Violin" with legendary jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli.

Violinist Matt Glaser tells a Groucho Marx joke one minute and quotes mystic Sufi poet Rumi the next. He’s a dedicated jazz educator and musician, who believes music is capable of expressing every shade of human experience. As the chairman of the string department of Berklee for the last 20 years, Glaser tries to break down musical barriers with the zeal of a missionary every chance he gets. His new album, Shifting Sands of Time (Rounder), with the Wayfaring Strangers, does just that, organically bringing together bluegrass, jazz and klezmer with a surprising combination of musicians and material.

As an educator, Glaser often lectures on seemingly disparate connections between jazz luminaries and visual and literary artists such as Lester Young/Paul Klee/Emily Dickinson or Sonny Rollins/Jackson Pollack/Walt Whitman, exploring similar bents across artistic styles. Glaser is interested in grand themes, something he shares with his friend, film director Ken Burns.

“Jazz by Ken Burns is horribly flawed and great and beautiful at the same time,” says Glaser, who is a featured talking head in the film. During the making of Jazz, Glaser suggested, to no avail, that Burns include 50 additional musicians such as Chick Corea, Cannonball Adderley, Stan Getz, Albert Ayler, Pat Metheny and Freddie Hubbard. “We discussed it, but Ken wanted a narrative thrust telling a few stories. It was not meant to be inclusive, but as an introduction for 37 million Americans to jazz. I’m proud it doubled jazz record sales,” Glaser says, in spite of residual frustration.

As a violinist, Glaser has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the White House, but he is most comfortable playing swing tunes with an existential viewpoint.

“Music for the ultimate situation is no longer so abstract. Music has to increase its power to heal; it’s needed now,” says Glaser. He’s drawn to the chanting of the Koran and the Vedas as well as Bach and the traditional “The Wayfaring Stranger.” At home in Cambridge, Mass., he’s listening to Marty Ehrlich’s Soujourn (Tzadik), George Jones’ Cold Hard Truth (Elektra/Asylum) and Joe Lovano’s Trio Fascination (Blue Note). This mix is par for the course for someone who grew up with an opera singer mother (who’s recently enjoying hip-hop) and listened to his father’s extensive jazz collection, and later studied ethnomusicology.

Glaser is a passionate educator. He’s written four books, including Jazz Violin (Oak) with Stephane Grappelli and Jazz Chord Studies for Violin (Berklee Press) with Joe Viola. But he’s more drawn to ideas rather than information. “I don’t have an anti-fact approach, but there are other ways of grasping things—metaphors, analogies and intuition. Ideas can be transformative and toxic.” Paraphrasing Theodore Roszak’s book Cult of Information (University of California Press), Glaser says we live in a world saturated with information, but not ideas. He’s fond of speaking about Louis Armstrong in the same breath as Albert Einstein and quick to find common ground and parallels between artists, eschewing divisiveness, especially in the jazz world. “In light of recent events [just after the terrorist attacks on America] all jazz musicians should feel connected to each other, rather than divided,“ he pleads.

Asked about future plans and dreams, there is no mention of new albums or gigs. Instead he speaks about practicing, learning and growing as a musician. His mission is to glorify musicians of all sorts.

“Music is not about facts; it’s about life, death, human transcendence and beauty.”

Kenny Kosek and Matt Glaser - Hasty Lonesome

Year: 1980
Label: Rounder Records [0127]

Recorded and mixed at Skyline Studios, NYC

Side A:
01 - Hasty Lonesome
02 - Le Chamoix Cornu
03 - K-Town Fling
Side B:
04 - Lonesome Fiddle Blues
05 - Deep Elum Blues
06 - B-Fiddle Medley (The Fiddler, Flies in The Whiskey, Bing Bong The Sailor)
07 - Marx Brothers Medley

Bass - Roger Mason (A1,A3,B1, B3) Marty Confurius (A2,B4) Nick Forster (B2)
Guitar - Russ Barenberg (A1,A3,B1,B3) Richard Lieberson (A2,B4) Bill Bachman (A2,B4) Charles Sawtelle (B2)
Mandolin - Andy Statman (A1,A2,A3,B1,B3) Tim O'Brien (B2)
Banjo - Marty Cutler (A1,A2,A3,B1) Tony Trischka (A1,A3,B3) Peter Wernick (B2) Alan Feldman (B3)
Drums - richard Crooks (A2,B1,B4)
Clarinet - Andy Statman (A1)
Electric Guitar - Jon Scholle (B2)
Bodhran - Alice Olwell (B3)

a quick goodbye.
vinyl | mp3 320kbps | w/o cover

and of course if you want to help this pirate along in his quest for musical goodies, he's looking for the following Kosek/Glaser-related albums:
Breakfast Special - Breakfast Special
Kenny Kosek - Angelwood
Matt Glaser - Play Fiddle Play: Jazz Violin Classics
Fiddle Fever - anything except Best Of
Stacy Phillips - anything


Anonymous said...

This stuff is sublime. I love the cool, open space emotion found in these tunes. Especially the first one where the bluegrass kicks in at the very end, and yet in keeping with the rest of the song. Kind of like the end of the Velvet Underground's "I'm Sticking with You." The only music I can think of that compares with this in terms of mood is Tom Verlaine's Warm and Cool.

Amazing how repeatedly in these posts more or less straight ahead bluegrass can be used to evoke very non-bluegrassey emotions. Thanks again!

The Irate Pirate said...

ah, you said it so well! Bluegrass technique giving rise to different sorts of emotions.

I was in a jug band once that did a velvet underground song...
I haven't heard Verlaine's Warm and Cool; I'll have to keep an eye out for it.

Anonymous said...

I have a copy of this LP but there's a big old scratch, so this is very welcome. Thank you.
I do have some of the music you are looking for. i.e. Angelwood (cd), Fiddle Fever (LP) and ,yes, some Stacey Phillips (some digging to do here).
Here comes the hurdle! I have NEVER uploaded anything and find it a challenge. ralph11

The Irate Pirate said...

wow, cool, ralph11!

as far as uploading goes, there are a few options. first, you could just send me some emails to, and attach individual mp3 files in the email. This is tedious, but perhaps closest to what you're already familiar with.

Alternately, you could make a .zip or .rar archive of the folder on your computer that has the mp3 files in it. On a mac, to create a .zip, select the folder, then go to File Menu > "Create Archive of 'foldername'" or "Compress 'foldername'". On a pc, I think you use a program called Winrar, though I've never done it so I can't explain further.

Once you have the .zip or .rar, uploading is very easy. Just go to a hosting service like or or, and follow what it tells you to do on the site. Rapidshare is probably the most straightforward - just click the 'browse' button, select the .zip/.rar file you just made on your computer, and then click the 'Upload' button.

It will take a while to upload, depending on your connection speed. Feel free to leave the computer and go do something else, just make sure to leave the web browser open. When the upload is done, a webpage will load saying "Upload Complete" or somesuch, and it will give you a code like
just copy that code, and either send it to me in an email or post it in the comments.

does that make sense? if you have any challenges or questions, let me know and I'll help as best I can.

Thanks again!

Terry O'Neill said...

Hey Mr. Pirate
How about the Central Park Sheiks, featuring Glaser on fiddle, plus some of the personnel from Hasty Lonesome? (Richard Lieberson, for one) It's an old Flying Fish LP of originals and standards like "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Nagasaki."
I have a fairly clean LP of that.

The Irate Pirate said...

Yeah, I'd heard of the Central Park Sheiks but wasn't aware they'd made a record. I'd love to hear it!

Thanks Terry

Anonymous said...

Hey Terry, I do believe I have a copy of the same Central Park Sheiks LP, though it will necessitate some digging. The copy I have should be in very good condition.
I am currently learning to upload stuff, so this should be considered as a work in progress from my part.