Andy Statman & David Grisman
Songs of Our Fathers
Acoustic Disc ACD-14
review by Art Menius
During the 1970s Andy Statman and David Grisman emerged among the most inventive, creative, and gifted mandolinists moving from Bill Monroe’s bluegrass into yet unexplored realms of acoustic music. Although they collaborated on the soundtrack for King of the Gypsies and the wildly improvisational Mandolin Abstractions, they have more often followed different paths. Statman also mastered the clarinet and studied with Dave Tarras, an old master of klezmer, the American version of eastern European Jewish dance music. Grisman pioneered the acoustic, bluegrass-inflected jazz called Dawg Music. A few years ago the later founded Acoustic Disc records, a Bay Area firm which has released not just David Grisman Quintet projects, but the work of mandolinists living and dead from around the world and Grisman’s collaborations with Jerry Garcia and Tony Rice.
Grisman sought out Statman once he had decided to record the Jewish music he associated with his dad. Over four days they recorded a jewel of an acoustic klezmer compact disc called Songs of Our Fathers. This music swings. Only the dead could resist its old world melodies, rhythm, and Jews. DGQ members Enrique Coria and Jim Kerwin join legendary rock ‘n’ roll drummer Hal Blaine in a band that gently rocks throughout.
The terrific music alone makes Songs of Our Fathers an unsurpassed introduction to klezmer. The experienced is tremendously enhanced by the variety of klezmer-related styles included and a simply wonderful, 32 page full color CD booklet. It provides an introduction to Jewish music and an explanation of each selection. Archival photographs of Jewish musicians, life, and religious observances enrich the booklet, while the descriptions express the breadth of klezmer roots.
Grisman and Statman prove this distinctive Jewish-American music remains quite alive in ‘95. Statman even contributes an original piece, “Bashie’s Bounce,” in the style of contemporary Sephardic dance music. Yes, this is traditional religious and ceremonial music, yet Songs of Our Fathers sings with genuine soul and deep, simple, memorable melodies.