My goal on the new CD, Angel Band, is to arrange country and Appalachian music for a jazz group in new and unusual ways. I’m conscious of both moving forward and staying true to the elemental soul of the songs, where old stories are told by modern, protean players. Or as a friend once put it, “Downtown meets the heartland.”
In 2003 when I made the first Free Country CD it seemed to strike a chord with a lot of people. This was gratifying, even surprising. Never one to repeat myself I stopped the project after the 2nd CD. However, Rich Zirinsky, founder of Adventure Music, always loved the concept, and he offered to produce a third in the series. He encouraged me to ask the best musicians I could find, and I got excited all over again. The week we completed this record I received the shocking news that Rich died in his sleep. The project fortunately found a new home, thanks to my old allies at Highnote records.
An angel is defined as an attendant and benevolent spirit. Perhaps we musicians are entrusted to act as such. This is, of course, a serious task, and yet the beauty of these tunes is they encourage us not just to meditate and grieve but also to laugh and dance.