Jerry Douglas is the undisputed King of the Dobro, a musician with monster chops. He cut his teeth playing bluegrass with the Country Gentlemen, but he's equally adept at almost any kind of music and has played with the top jazz, pop, and country artists for almost 40 years. Traveler is another eclectic outing from an artist who refuses to be pigeonholed, and features Douglas kicking up his heels with a bunch of A-list friends including Eric Clapton, Alison Krauss, Dr. John, and Paul Simon. Douglas tries his hand at funky New Orleans R&B on Huey "Piano" Smith's "High Blood Pressure," with Keb' Mo' on lead vocals and Dr. John tickling the ivories. Douglas plays some greasy lap steel licks and Sarah Buxton adds Raelettes-like vocal harmonies. Douglas opens Leadbelly's "On a Monday" with his slippery, bluesy slide guitar work and adds credible lead vocals, but it's his stinging slide that carries the tune home. Alison Krauss & Union Station guest on "Frozen Fields," a track with Krauss delivering her usual luminous vocals while Douglas plays some laid-back acoustic guitar fills. He's more adventurous on the album's lively instrumentals. "King Silkie," co-written with Union Station guitarist Dan Tyminski, is a blazing hybrid of bluegrass and acoustic rock with Douglas smoking on Dobro in the company of Sam Bush on mandolin, Tyminski on guitar, and Charlie Cushman on banjo. Douglas turns jazzy on a medley of "American Tune/Spain," the latter a Chick Corea standard that incorporates elements of Joaquín Rodrigo's "Concierto de Aranjuez." Douglas layers up several Dobro tracks and incorporates the flavors and feel of flamenco into his free-flowing improvisations. Douglas blends the sounds of Celtic folk and hints of classical Indian music on "Gone to Fortingall." Béla Fleck's inventive banjo and Viktor Krauss' drumming provide sympathetic backup.
by j. poet