Room of Wonders (Jayme Stone JS300, 2010)
Canadian banjoist Jayme Stone ventures into the world of jazz improvisation, classical music and various global cultures on Room of Wonders. He is following the banjo jazz fusion path created by banjo innovator Bela Fleck. While Stone’s previous effort, Africa to Appalachia, focused on the connections between West African and bluegrass music, this time he introduces unexpected elements such as the music of Bach, Eastern Europe, Brazil and Nordic Europe.
“I was listening to Bach’s French Suites while cooking. The performance had such a lilt to it that I literally wanted to dance,” Stone recalls. “It was an epiphany moment. Bach used European folk dance forms to inform his own music. I realized I could explore folk dances in my own way, but with a worldwide scope.”
Stone gets his inspiration from Japanese poetry, Brazilian literature, and musical instruments he found while traveling in remote Malian villages.
Musical guests on Room of Wonders include nyckelharpa maestro, Olov Johansson of Swedish group Väsen, who contributed to “Troll Kingdom Polska;” Casey Driessen on percussive five-string fiddle playing. “Casey is a master of the chop, using the bow percussively,” reflects Stone. “Most of the rhythmic elements you hear are Casey. He’s a drummer living in a fiddler’s body.”
Other musicians featured include guitarist Grant Gordy, who plays with the alt-bluegrass/jazz David Grisman Quintet; and former Punch Brother bassist Greg Garrison. “We took ‘Planinsko Horo’ and played it in every key,” recalls Stone with a laugh. “We made notes of what we liked and didn’t, and then voted on our favorites. It was like an experiment in musical democracy.”
“The world itself is like one vast room full of all these wonders,” notes Stone. “That’s perhaps a hallmark of this day and age. The whole world feels open and accessible. And as a musician, you walk into a room-a concert hall or a living room-anywhere in the world and by having instruments there, you can evoke other places, other centuries, and other wonders.”
Room of Wonders is an ambitious melting pot by banjo explorer Jayme Stone.
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