Call it avant-country, call it what you want, but it’s not nearly as anachronistic as you might think, though Merle might roll over in his grave, I think he also might just dance a two step or two. This is Merle’s songs like you’ve never heard them before, and it’s vibrant and displays a wide range of “jazz” styles in presenting the tunes.
Bryan and The Haggards is Bryan Murray - Tenor and Balto! Saxophone; Jon Irabagon - C-melody, Alto, and Sopranino Saxophone; Jon Lundbom - Guitar and Banjo; Moppa Elliott - Bass; Danny Fischer – Drums. They play a blend of Bakersfield-style country music with an avant-garde approach that uses a country two-beat and ballad setting that embraces just a tad bit of dissonance and experimental improvisations on newly discovered and created instruments.
Though they don’t stray very far from the original melodies – well, very far -, there are some interesting things going on. The simplicity of these country melodies lends itself well to improv and experimentation. Often the traditional structures are played with non-traditional juxtapositions, and it becomes a blend of avant-jazz-country musical creativity and interpretations, as well as a celebration of Haggard’s music. Throw in a musical sense of humor, and it’s both musically interesting, and a damn good time.
Covered here, all songs either written or performed by Merle Haggard, are "Ramblin' Fever," and "Seein' Eye Dog." “Sing a Sad Song” is the only quartet piece on the CD and features the softer, more melodic side of tenor saxophonist Bryan Murray. Check out the slap-back reverb on the snare, which is very true to this famous Haggard tune. “Mixed Up Mess Of A Heart” and “Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star” are here as well as the saddest Christmas song ever, “If I Make It Through December”.
This one might not be for everybody, but I had a blast with it.
Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved