Fiddlers 4

Fiddlers 4

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This collaboration is billed as a new style of American string band, and the description fits, given three master fiddlers -- Michael Doucet, Bruce Molsky, and Darol Anger -- and the superb young cellist Rushad Eggleston. However, the string band image conjured up isn't quite exact -- a folksy string quartet is more apt. Musically, they're all over the place, from the Cajun swing of "You Little Wild Thing" (thanks to the influence of Michael Doucet) through the jazz of "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo" and New Orleans gospel/blues of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee/I Know" all the way to the traditional "Man of Constant Sorrow" -- probably not a good choice given how much the song has become definitively associated with Ralph Stanley. But these guys don't stand or fall on their vocals; it's the playing that counts. And while they might err a little on the side of politeness rather than wildness (the exception being "Atchafalaya Pipeline," a Cajun surf tune), there's no denying how well they play and how naturally they all fall together as instrumentalists; there's a real chemistry among them. They return frequently to the Cajun motif and it works well, especially on "Mazurka/Acadian Two-Step," which drives like a V8 with a tune-up and is certainly better than "African Solstice," which is ambitious but never completely gels. But this is a joy to hear -- some great American musicians playing some great (mostly) American music.

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