The Banjo Duet Het Grote Scandal San Francisco is a lot more than a banjo duet -- or less, depending on a listener's standpoint. Recorded in Amsterdam, it features Eugene Chadbourne on banjo, classical guitar, and piano (for a significant amount of time) and Volcmar Verkerk on banjo, percussion, trombone, and wood flutes. This is the duet's first release since the track included on the Doctor's Leo release, Boogie With the Hook. When they play banjo and/or guitar, they dialogue beautifully. The duet is often Chadbourne's best setting: it forces him to focus and react. Some of these tracks equal the material found on Wild Partners and The Guitar Lesson (with Henry Kaiser). But (and this is a big but) the pieces where the Doctor shifts to the piano or Verkerk grabs a flute are much less satisfying. The question is not whether they are good players or not (although one could argue about the flutist's proficiency). Simply, without a guitar in hand they tend to goof off. A little bit here and there can introduce variety, comic relief, or that zany touch Chadbourne fans appreciate, but the middle part of the CD where both musicians explore other instruments is too long and dissipated. Luckily they make amends afterwards with an inspired string of banjo duets.
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