First off, though In Good Company is a banjo album, it is not in most senses of the term a "bluegrass" CD. Bill Evans uses his considerable banjo playing prowess along with an all-star cast of musicians to create an acoustic music experience that touches on jazz, swing, pop rock and other music varieties such as progressive bluegrass that sound good on stringed instruments and features the five-string banjo.
After all, Evans successfully devotes a good amount of CD space on four McCartney/Lennon songs with an acoustic twist using a host of banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, cello and percussion. That is what I consider to be outside of the typical bluegrass setting.
Excitement runs through the album. Five of the tunes were written by Evans with the 5-string banjo in mind. The "good company" includes vocals with the Infamous String Dusters, Love Kills Sorrow and Tim O'Brien. Instrumentation includes greats such as David Grier on flat top guitar, Matt Flinner on mandolin, Stuart Duncan on fiddle and the list goes on and on. Some of Evan's banjo numbers include duets with Chris Pandolf and Ned Luberecki.
Commenting on some of the outstanding tunes (even though all are great): The Distance Between Two Points—a driving banjo tune which would make a good companion while motoring along a highway or country road. Walk to the Water is a vocal by Infamous String Dusters' Travis Brook and features a fantastic banjo duet introduction and conclusion. Big Chief Sonny—Dixie or swing but real happy music.
The four Beatles instrumentals are Mother Nature's Son, You've Got to Hide Your Love Away, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and Hard Day's Night. They are an acoustic tour de force (how can he play the banjo that fast?) and the result is very entertaining.
To make the CD even nicer, Bill has a classy jacket and enclosed photo poster showing the band members during the production. This would make a nice Christmas gift or just a fun listening experience for yourself.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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