The Del Mccoury Band & Preservation Hall Jazz Band, "American Legacies"

More hybrid than fusion, traditional jazz and bluegrass get chummy with one another in a program that excels when the music is at its polar opposites-spirited and glum. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, coming off last year's ebullient collection of collaborations, lends swing and verve to material from country and New Orleans songbooks, while the bluegrass aces convey a rural isolation through a vocal and instrumental whine. On the uptempo songs it's a handsome mix. Mandolinist Ronnie McCoury and clarinetist Charlie Gabriel turn in exceptional instrumental runs to give "American Legacies" an emotional grip that reaches beyond the technical finesse that defines both of these musical styles. That the two genres are dramatically different in construction keeps the affair from fully jelling. Traditional jazz relies on the instrumentalists weaving lines around a melody; bluegrass asks its practitioners to form a single line and take turns in the front. Standout cut "I'll Fly Away" delivers the best of both worlds-a jazz funeral and a hillbilly hop.

- Album Review


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