Casey Driessen


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Violinist Casey Driessen cannot be accurately termed a jazz player or a country artist, yet this recording straddles the line between both genres. Stylistically, he's closer to Alison Krauss than Vassar Clemens or Natalie McMaster, but his sound reflects the surreal nature of Jerry Goodman or Jean-Luc Ponty rather than the harmonically inclined St├ęphane Grappelli. Using riffs more than improvisation, and Celtic or fiddle based square dance rather than swing, Driessen and his band, with the estimable electric bassist Viktor Krauss and drummer Matt Chamberlain, make music that borrows equally from rural and urban sources. Most of the music is composed and arranged by Driessen, save the fiddled Bill Monroe number "Ashland Breakdown" with background loops, the vocalized alamain-styled public domain tune "Conversation with Death," and Fred Rose's poppish waltz "I'm Satisfied with You". Driessen's "Uncontinental Breakfast" is the closest to an ethnic fusion in its electric raga like stance enhanced by lap steel guitar, "Green Flash" and "Hummingbirds vs. Yellowjackets" are obvious quarter-note based Irish jig/funk, and "Hunt for the Quail Egg" is the most exuberant and upbeat track on the date, featuring guitarist Darrell Scott. Rhythms both whirring and stomping identify "Lunar Cages" while Driessen's soaring violin keeps the dynamic level in check within the mezzo piano range. The pensive yet sweet waltz "Flexible Helix" is the most tuneful track, while heavy drumming, echoed guitar, and modal bass sounds different from the rest of the material on the bonus track "Regarding Life This Far," which follows a curious, untitled, tacit null cut. Driessen's violin playing, and especially his vocal style lack individual distinction, though his music displays a vision few musicians can claim. Further explorations and recordings should realize expanded ideas from this clearly talented musician.

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