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May 18, 2010

Tony Trischka

“…the godfather of what’s sometimes called new acoustic music.” - New York Times

“…most influential banjo player of the latter part of the 20th century, certainly in terms of his profound influence on succeeding generations of modern players.” - Banjo Newsletter

“Keep playing them new notes.” - Bill Monroe

Number 4 in the Country Cooking graduate series! I really can't say anything that would top what Bill keith has said:

Mere words hardly suffice to describe this music, which, issuing from my Macintosh (Macintosh out of Macintosh, by Oftofon-Thorens) pervasively and insidiously interfused and permeated my entire being. So if it's mere words you want, better get another record - this one's all instrumental. But if it's poetry you're after, these instrumentals have plenty. Plenty of poetic irony, too, not to mention onomatopoeia. In fact, after listening to both sides, I'm sure you'll agree that Tony's eclecticism borders on iconoclasticism with definite transmigratory tendencies. Ergo, I feel safe to say without fear of contradiction that this record will become, in the months and years ahead, the sine qua non of je ne sais quoi. But since i have known Tony for ten years or more, I cannot hold that against him.

Of particular note is the high level of musicianship with which Tony surrounds himself. These highly skilled accompanists, all richly deserving of high praise, are all highly successful in carrying the music and themselves to dizzying heights.

As for some of the tunes on this album, all too little has been (or should be) said. It is difficult (but not impossible) to overlook the inventiveness in such a composition as "My Birdcage Needs a New Paper." And who could fail to miss the rhythmic subtleties in "The Jig Is Up"? Anyone who can't hear, please raise their hands.

We're all familiar with the mathematician's assertion that if a thousand monkeys were given a thousand typewriters for a thousand years, one of them would probably produce a Shakespearean sonnet. But if they'd been given a thousand banjos instead, one of them would have probably written "The Only Way." But of course, Tony has succeeded in doing this in a fraction of the allotted time, which attests to his creative abilities, although the subject of Tony's creativity is a little too abstruse to be fully discussed at this point in time or this moment in space.

In all seriousness, though, Tony should be commended for his courage in making this record, which is guaranteed to offend a great number of people in spite of what are sure to be limited sales. Of one thing we can easily be certain, however - Tony is not being lured by the fickle forces of crass commercialism or the all-mighty dollar.

Having always felt that it's best to let sleeping dogs light, I invite you without further ado to sit back and enjoy this album.

Bill Keith a/k/a Brad (1974)

Tony Trischka
Biography by Sandra Brennan

The avant-garde banjo sylings of Tony Trischka inspired a whole generation of progressive bluegrass musicians; he was not only considered among the very best pickers, he was also one of the instrument's top teachers, and created numerous instructional books, teaching video tapes and cassettes.

A native of Syracuse, New York, Trischka's interest in banjo was sparked by the Kingston Trio's "Charlie and the MTA" in 1963. Two years later, he joined the Down City Ramblers, where he remained through 1971. That year, Trischka made his recording debut on 15 Bluegrass Instrumentals with the band Country Cooking; at the same time, he was also a member of Country Granola. In 1973, he began a two-year stint with Breakfast Special. Between 1974 and 1975, he recorded two solo albums, Bluegrass Light and Heartlands. After one more solo album in 1976, Banjoland, he went on to become musical leader for the Broadway show The Robber Bridegroom. Trischka toured with the show in 1978, the year he also played with the Monroe Doctrine.

Beginning in 1978, he also played with artists such as Peter Rowan, Richard Greene, and Stacy Phillips. In the early 1980s, he began recording with his new group Skyline, which recorded its first album in 1983. Subsequent albums included Robot Plane Flies over Arkansas (solo, 1983), Stranded in the Moonlight (with Skyline, 1984) and Hill Country (solo, 1985). In 1984, he performed in his first feature film, Foxfire. Three years later, he worked on the soundtrack for Driving Miss Daisy. Trischka produced the Belgian group Gold Rush's No More Angels in 1988. The following year, Skyline recorded its final album, Fire of Grace. He also recorded the theme song for Books on the Air, a popular National Public Radio Show, and continued his affiliation with the network by appearing on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, From Our Front Porch, and other radio shows. Trischka's solo recordings include 1993's World Turning, 1995's Glory Shone Around: A Christmas Collection and 1999's Bend. New Deal followed in 2003. The new studio album was a bluesy adaptation of bluegrass standards that featured, among other things, a vocal cameo by Loudon Wainwright. Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, featuring an appearance by comedian Steve Martin, came out four years later.

With his fearless musical curiosity as the guiding force, Tony Trischka's latest critically acclaimed release, Territory roams widely through the banjo's creative terrain. Nine selections partner Tony with fellow banjoists Pete Seeger, Mike Seeger, Bill Evans, Bill Keith, Bruce Molsky, and twelve all-Trischka solo tracks explore a panorama of tunings, banjo sounds, and traditions; tapping the creative potential of America's signature musical instrument.

Tony Trischka - The Early Years

Year: 1998
Label: Rounder

The Early Years contains banjo virtuoso Tony Trischka's first two Rounder albums -- Bluegrass Light (1973) and Heartlands (1975) -- in their entirety. "In the ongoing story of American roots music, Tony Trischka's first two Rounder recordings . . . rank among the most important and pivotal works of the late twentieth century." --Bill Evans "Rarely, perhaps three or four times a century, some music will be created that is a pure, explosive expression of life energy and uncontaminated joy. The music on this CD is, in my humble opinion, exactly that. When I listen to the volcanic, insanely creative opening to "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms" and other cuts like it on this album, I feel like my head is going to explode with happiness. I put Tony's early music in the same category as the best of Charles Mingus, Cecil Taylor, Scotty Stoneman and Wagner: mad and magnificent. Tony's music is the most successful urban embrace of rural sensibilities that I've ever heard. It's the music of trees and vines breaking through the sidewalks of the Bronx, of the irrepressible, implacable energy of the earth pushing through joyfully, at all times, in all places. It's some of the most unjustly neglected of all popular music masterpieces." --Matt Glaser

1 Two If by Night - Trischka - 2:24
2 China Grove - Trischka - 2:39
3 For You - Trischka - 5:15
4 My Birdcage Needs a New Paper (Because My Parakeet's Already Read ...) - Trischka - 2:49
5 Hampton Hope - Trischka - 1:25
6 Higher up the River - Trischka - 2:47
7 Sleepy Hollow Real - Trischka - 2:11
8 Twelve Weeks at Sea - Trischka - 3:35
9 The Jig Is Up - Trischka - 1:46
10 Blue Light - Trischka - 4:00
11 Remington Ride - Remington - 2:12
12 The Only Way - Trischka - 4:18
13 Jerzy the Peddler - Kosek, Statman, Trischka - 2:13
14 Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms - Monroe - 2:32
15 Lilacs Look Like Lakes (In the Sun) - Trischka - 3:44
16 Loch Lomond - Traditional - 1:31
17 Bitter's Wheat - Trischka - 4:48
18 Is This Cloud Valley - Trischka - 3:18
19 Soldier's Joy - Traditional - 3:32
20 Brian and Sarah - Crooks, Dancks - :55
21 Slapback - Trischka - 2:55
22 Sage Age - Trischka - 4:08
23 Pike County Breakdown - Jones - 2:18
24 Jesse's Girl - Trischka - 2:36
25 Serving Mankind - Trischka - 2:01
26 Heartlands - Trischka - 2:57

booklet (thanks to 5147hoppe)
mp3 320 kbps | w/ small cover | 150mb

Tony Trischka - Robot Plane Flies Over Arkansas

Year: 1983
Label: Rounder

Trischka's fourth Rounder album, and one of his strongest collections of originals to date, was recorded in 1982. His extraordinary technique, ferocious drive and unique harmonic sense make for exciting and adventurous music for the banjo. His accompanists include Andy Statman on mandolin and Matt Glaser on fiddle.

Review by Eugene Chadbourne
It is funny to listen to Robot Plane Flies Over Arkansas and look back on the reviews that ran in conservative publications such as Old Time Music at the time the album came out. From the comments at the time, one would think this was a recording of the bombing of Dresden or instruments being smashed along the I-40. And 30 years later, the solo banjo piece "Avondale," short as it is, would no doubt start a fistfight were it to be played backstage at a banjo-picking contest. This is one of the most famous albums of what came to be known as progressive bluegrass, and while it is in the nature of many musicians to be progressive in their thinking, they sometimes find themselves caught in styles of music that don't encourage such an attitude. This is the situation Trischka found himself in when he and his cohorts started stretching many of the ideas of what might be appropriate to play in a combo whose instrumentation had been handed down from traditional bluegrass bands (i.e., mandolin, banjo, acoustic guitar, and so forth). Many of the sort of chord progressions and arrangements heard here have been copied shamelessly ad nauseum ever since, sometimes by second-rate hacks and sometimes by the participants themselves. There is an exciting dimension to hearing these ideas being presented for what is often nearly the first time, and anyone familiar with bluegrass and its conventions can feel twinges of panic at some of the choices of notes, similar to how a frightened camper reacts to each successive weird noise from the forest. And many later recordings of this type of music don't quite strike such a perfect balance of the best aspects of the related musics of bebop and bluegrass. One thing is for sure: This is one of the finest recordings of acoustic instruments ever made, and the consistency is amazing considering that the tracks originate from several different sessions on both the East and West Coasts. Pickers heard here at their absolute best include Andy Statman, Matt Glaser, Darol Anger, David Grisman, Tony Rice, and Barry Mitterhoff.

1 Purchase Grover - Trischka - 1:29
2 Roberto's Dream - Trischka - 4:32
3 Blown Down Wall - Trischka - 3:22
4 A Robot Plane Flies Over Arkansas - Trischka - 3:58
5 Pour Brel - Trischka - 3:33
6 Avondale - Trischka - :37
7 Sea Shank - Trischka - 3:10
8 Triceratops - Stover, Trischka - 4:34
9 Fiddle Tune Medley: Doc Wyland's Reel/Dede of the Highlands/Corte Mad - Trischka - 4:05
10 John's Waltz to the Miller - Trischka - 3:52
11 The Navigator - Trischka - 7:56

more music for robots.
mp3 320 kbps | w/ small cover | 86mb


Anonymous said...

This is music is so good, so polished and so hard that it nearly brings me to tears. After a first listen I can safely say it (and much of the Early Years tracks) is bound to be listened to over and over again. Fast, hard, highly structured quirk---my favorite kind of music, if it is a kind. Can't thank you enough. If there's anything else like it in this world, please let us know.

5147hoppe said...

I just love your very comment ano, - you nailed it!

The Irate Pirate said...

yeah, it's comments like that that make the blogging worthwhile. thanks anonymous!

Anonymous said...

Great music, I love this obscure stuff, which as often is the case is the best music, no hitparades to worry about, thanks a lot for some real music!