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Smooth Jazz-Country Fusion
Davis Miller | 06/22/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Jerry Douglas is widely renowned as perhaps the finest dobro player in contemporary acoustic music. His main foundation is bluegrass, but Douglas is an eclectic whose tastes run toward jazz, blues, folk, and straight-ahead country as well, and he's equally capable of appealing to bluegrass aficionados or new agers with a taste for instrumental roots music. What's more, his progressive sensibility as a composer has earned him comparisons to like-minded virtuosos B?la Fleck and David Grisman. Douglas was born in Columbus, OH, in 1955, and began playing the dobro at age eight with encouragement from his father, who was also a bluegrass musician. By his teen years, Douglas was already a member of his father's band, and his playing was especially influenced by Josh Graves of Flatt & Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys. Douglas was discovered at a festival by the Country Gentlemen, who took him on tour with them for the rest of the summer and later brought him into the recording studio. From there, Douglas established himself as a hugely in-demand session musician; during the latter half of the '70s, he worked with the likes of J.D. Crowe & the New South, David Grisman, Ricky Skaggs, Doyle Lawson, and Tony Rice. Additionally, Douglas released his debut album, Fluxology, on Rounder in 1979; he followed it three years later with Fluxedo, which like its predecessor stuck relatively close to traditional (albeit sometimes jazzy) bluegrass. During the early '80s, Douglas continued his session career with even greater success, adding Emmylou Harris, B?la Fleck, the Whites, and Peter Rowan to his list of credits. He returned to his solo career with 1986's Under the Wire on Sugar Hill, which reflected his interest in the progressive new-acoustic (or "newgrass") movement. He subsequently signed with MCA, where he issued Changing Channels (1987) and the smoother, strongly jazz-influenced Plant Early (1989). More session work for increasingly prominent artists brought him into the '90s, with names like Alison Krauss, Del McCoury, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Randy Travis, Clint Black, Patty Loveless, Suzy Bogguss, Reba McEntire, Kathy Mattea, and Dolly Parton on his resum?. In 1992, he returned to Sugar Hill for the more traditional bluegrass outing Slide Rule, which many critics ranked among his finest recordings. The following year brought the all-instrumental Skip, Hop & Wobble, a trio recording with Russ Barenberg and Edgar Meyer. In 1994, Douglas contributed to the Grammy-winning compilation Great Dobro Sessions, and cut a duo album with Peter Rowan, Yonder, in 1996. 1998's Restless on the Farm, true to its title, was a return to Douglas' freewheeling eclecticism, which continued on 2002's Lookout for Hope. -- Steve Huey, AMG"
More than the world's best Dobro player
Davis Miller | North Carolina | 06/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This rare recording is both edgy and extraordinarily musical. Many of these tunes ache as universally as first love and last breaths. Highlights: "La Conversacion," a lament from a 100-year-old for the lost love of his life and "Pushed Too Far," a wondrously composed and played, nearly orgasmic romp. In addition to Jerry Douglas' optimistic ghost-howling-underwater Dobro, the CD features Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush, and Russ Barenberg, among other remarkable players. Douglas and the rest of these folks, who have collectively been called the bluegrass Beatles (which speaks to the ways they've reinvented this age-old music), have written and recorded some of the most progressive, resonant, consummately played tunes of the past three decades. Do yourself a favor: buy a copy of "Plant Early," almost regardless of the cost. You won't regret the expense.
Other recommended Jerry Douglas recordings: "Skip, Hop and Wobble," "Restless on the Farm," "Strength in Numbers: The Telluride Sessions"
author THE TAO OF MUHAMMAD ALI: A FATHERS AND SONS MEMOIR and THE TAO OF BRUCE LEE: A MARTIAL ARTS MEMOIR"