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Jay Ungar & Molly Mason - The Pleasures of Winter

The Pleasures of Winter

Jay Ungar & Molly Mason

Fiddle and Dance Records

Available from Jay & Molly's web site.

A review written for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb

If the names aren't familiar, let me preface this by saying that Jay Ungar wrote the waltz Ashokan Farewell, which was the theme song for Ken Burn's documentary The Civil War; and that is their band, Fiddle Fever, playing the song in the film. It is Jay's beautiful clear tones that make the song so memorable. Jay and Molly both did the sound track to Brother's Keeper, which was released as the CD Waltzing With You. Molly and Jay also wrote The Lover's Waltz, an equally beautiful piece of music, and CD, that is overshadowed by the fame garnered by Ashokan Farewell. They also play in a number of aggregations that involve either friends or family or both and some of these are represented on this disc; two of their groups deserve attention; Swingology the group that plays on their radio show, Dancing On The Air, on WAMC (and streamed and a wonderful treasury of music), is one such group that has a cast of musicians that involves cohorts that are available, and the Jay Ungar & Molly Mason Family Band which is comprised of them playing with Ruth Ungar and her husband Michael Merenda, AKA Ruthy and Mike, (both of them are members of the Mammals).

This disc comes from live performances over a number of years and includes both friends; Harry Aceto, David Bromberg, Tony Trischka, Kate Pierson (B-52s) and Sam Zucchini among others in various configurations, and the family Ruth and Mike. The tunes are a heady mix of songs for the most part traditional, but with arrangements by one or more of the band members, and of songs written by one or more of those either playing on the disc and/or somehow relating to the title of the disc, but definitely not your traditional songs of the season.

Their music is traditional, and might fit into any number of genres, folk, ragtime, Appalachian mountain, Cajun and so on. Though we called it traditional, enlivened by the energy they bring to the music and the broad backgrounds of these musicians, it is never stale. The backbone of their music is their musicianship. Jay's fiddle playing is some of cleanest and clearest you will hear no matter what style genre of music he is playing, and his mandolin playing is every bit as clean and should be displayed even more. Molly's singing is just beautiful and she never over sings a song, and her piano, and guitar playing shows her versatility. And with the musicianship of the friends and family it is truly a disc that has long playability and a sheer delight.

Track List:

  • Cold Nights of Winter / Trettondagsmarschen
  • A Rovin' On a Winter's Night
  • The Unbroken Thread
  • Twenty Below
  • Valse de Jeunes Filles / Valse des Jouets
  • Sermonette
  • Christmas Eve
  • Lights of Chanukah
  • Böda Waltz
  • The Frostbite Set
  • Darkest Days, Brightest Nights
  • Midnight Hour Blues
  • Settin' By the Fire
  • The Solstice Set
  • Zat You Santa Claus?
  • The Snowstorm
  • Silent Night Two Step

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2008, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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