CD Review: Andy Statman / East Flatbush Blues
Andy Statman / East Flatbush Blues. Shefa Records, HORN-3001, 2006 www.andystatman.org .
CD available from amazon.com. Elliott Simon has also reviewed this CD for All About Jazz.
The Klezmershack received two new CDs by Andy Statman, recorded contemporaneously, each featuring a different side of the artist. This is the bluegrass CD, and on it Statman is backed by Jim Whitney, and one of my favorite Americana drummers, Larry Eagle. Eagle I last heard propelling Bruce Springstein's "Pete Seeger Sessions" show. Statman I last saw playing with one of my favorite bluegrass bands, Wayfaring Strangers. But standing there, Statman merged bluegrass with klezmer and hassidic music. On this CD, he pays tribute to Bill Monroe and to his bluegrass roots only. I gotta say: when you're Andy Statman, that's enough.
As you might expect, this isn't just bluegrass. It's bluegrass improvisation. Bluegrass nign, if you will. From his opening take on Bill Monroe's old "Rawhide, thought his own, "Sensitive Waltz" (and the most psychedelic "Old Joe Clark" you'll ever hear), Statman shows how and why he has had such an influence on bluegrass mandolin. The title track, alone, is a worthy successor to the "Flatbush Waltz", the last all-mandolin album he recorded--the album released 25 years ago which first established his reputation as an amazing mandolin player. It is notable. The Andy Statman who wrote the best-known klezmer revival tune, "Flatbush Waltz" was not religious. The Andy Statman who wrote the new "East Flatbush Blues," a beautiful new bluegrass tune, is steeped in hassidut. It's the same Andy Statman. He's still a genius, and as much as I'll always prefer to see him in an ensemble of peers that push him, hearing just the bluegrass side, here, backed by Whitney and Eagle, is still mighty wonderful. [GRADE: A]