Mark O'Connor

Crossing Bridges

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Mark O'Connor is one of the most difficult musicians to categorize, especially when listening to a stunning release such as Crossing Bridges. Although his roots are in bluegrass, he is equally at home performing or composing jazz and classical music while freely mingling elements of each genre into a project. The violinist's meeting with violist Carla Cook and cellist Natalie Haas might be described as chamber music without boundaries. The opening medley of "Chief Sitting in the Rain" and "College Hornpipe" transforms two traditional bluegrass standards learned from O'Connor's mentor Benny Thomasson, with both Cook and Haas adding their stamp to the earlier version conceived by O'Connor and bassist Edgar Meyer. "Blackberry Mull" was inspired by the old folk tune "Blackberry Blossom," which O'Connor re-harmonized during a trip to Scotland. "Appalachia Waltz" was recorded previously by O'Connor with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Meyer, and it remains one of the most moving compositions in the violinist's vast repertoire. This slight change of instrumentation makes little difference; this interpretation ranks with his earlier recording. "F.C.'s Jig" is a playful duet by O'Connor and Cook, while the traditional folk favorite "Limerock" is a marvelous duet by the violinist and Haas. It is amusing to learn that some of Mark O'Connor's fans want to stick to just one musical genre. This virtuoso performer and composer seems driven to an impossibly higher level of accomplishment when working with players as accomplished as Carla Cook and Natalie Haas. This is yet another essential CD by the prolific violin master Mark O'Connor.

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