"Bluegrass Light" by Tony Trischka
In 1974, it was clear that bluegrass could be saved by an infusion of harmolodics, the philosophy created by Ornette Coleman to explicate free jazz. Tony Trischka was the man chosen by the Banjo Gods to accomplish this task, and he does so ably on his first solo record, Bluegrass Light (Rounder Records). On the opening two tracks -- "Two If By Night" and "China Grove" -- the profusion of instruments is reminiscent of that famous Bonzo Dog Band song where a near-infinite array of band-members are introduced by a suave lounge singer: "And on nose flute... Albert Schweitzer!"* It sounds like fiddle, mandolin, guitar, saxophone, banjo -- and maybe double bass.
Also, the first side contains a song entitled "My Birdcage Needs A New Paper (Because My Parakeet's Already Read The One That's In There)"! No one sings a word on this album.
I have only the vinyl -- and a rather scratched copy -- with no sleeve, so I can only guess at the musicians, but they are all cocky and fast. (Bluegrass has never produced a memorable ballad.) If Tony were a pianist, he'd be famous. But Surreal Bluegrass never changed the world, though it has measurably amused me (and my wife) in the form of Bluegrass Light, these last three weeks.
*I just looked up the song; it's called "The Intro and The Outro."
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