Fiddler Darol Anger was one of the key players in the late 1970s/early '80s "spacegrass" scene, playing on essential early albums by David Grisman before starting projects of his own, frequently collaborating with mandolin player Mike Marshall. Anger and Marshall have explored a wide variety of styles, mixing bluegrass twang with far-flung strands of jazz and world music. Here's a quick look at his work...
Darol Anger "Fiddlistics" (Kaleidoscope, 1981) (LP)
Darol Anger & Barbara Higbie "Tideline" (Windham Hill, 1982)
Darol Anger/Barbara Higbie Quartet "Live At Montreux '84" (Windham Hill, 1984)
Darol Anger "Chiaroscuro" (1985)
Darol Anger & Mike Marshall "The Duo" (Rounder, 1988)
Darol Anger/Various Artists "Jazz Violin Celebration" (Kaleidoscope, 1985) (LP)
Darol Anger & Mike Marshall "Jam" (Compass, 1999)
Darol Anger "Diary Of A Fiddler" (Compass, 1999)
One of the key members of the Grisman-inspired spacegrass scene weighs in with a flashy set of high-power fiddle instrumentals, moving from Irish reels and bluegrass sizzlers to jazzy space-outs, cajun tunes, and playful covers of old Beatles and Hendrix hits. Each tune has a different cast of characters, with master fiddlers such as Martin Hayes, Natalie McMaster, Bruce Molsky, Richard Greene and others pitching in on various tracks. A little show-offy, but also pretty soulful, and pleasantly low-tech.
Darol Anger & Mike Marshall "Brand New Can" (Compass, 2000)
Darol Anger & Mike Marshall "The Duo Live: At Home And On The Range" (Compass, 2002)
Darol Anger & The American Fiddle Ensemble "Republic Of Strings" (Compass, 2004)
Scott Nygaard anchors the album on guitar, while Anger flits about on the violin and mandolin, joined by Brittany Haas on violin, and the dual cellos of Rushad Eggleston and Natalie Haas. Laurie Lewis contributes vocals on a florid cover of Joni Mitchell's "Help Me"; Sara Watkins (of Nickle Creek fame) does the same for a version of the Stevie Wonder oldie, "Higher Ground," which may be the album's highlight (and which you're sure to hear on various NPR-affiliated folk shows in the months to come...) This is pretty sugary, but flows along nicely and draws on a wide range of sources, gathering songs from Brazil, Finland, Ireland, the Middle East and all strata of American pop culture. Newgrass/new acoustic fans will be pleased, though it may be a mite mellow for the rest of us.
Darol Anger "Heritage" (Six Degrees, 2005)
Darol Anger & Republic Of Strings "Generation Nation" (Compass, 2006)
Darol Anger & Mike Marshall "Woodshop" (Adventure Music, 2007)
Sprightly "newgrass" instrumentals in the classic mode, these collaborations between violinist Darol Anger and mando/multi-instrumentalist Mike Marshall cap a decades-long partnership, and show the fluidity and playfulness of their shared musical strengths. The tunes bear the emblematic mix of bluegrass, classical and jazz elements that the style is based on... The album kicks off with "Peter Pan," which gave me the willies because its the theme song to a local public radio talkshow that I hear all the time (Mike Marshall wrote it... who knew??) Another highlight is the craftily named "Who Had Whom," which is a sideways quote of the Beatles' "Michelle..." All in all, a pretty solid album by these two old pros -- focussed and not too goopy, a treat for fans while accessible to Americana and jazz buffs alike.
Darol Anger, Mike Marshall & Vasen "Mike Marshall & Darol Anger With Vasen" (Adventure Music, 2007)
Two newgrass elders, violinist Darol Anger and mando/multi-instrumentalist Mike Marshall, tune in and turn on with the group Vasen, one of the most dynamic bands in the modern Swedish acoustic music scene. Various 'grassers have flirted with Celtic and other European forms, so Anger and Marshall already have an affinity for the style... The debt apparently runs both ways, as the Vasen trio leaps in full throttle along with the Northern California superpickers... It's a very energetic, hurly-burly set, dominated by note-heavy improvisational flights. The repertoire is split pretty evenly between originals and traditional material brought to the table by Marshall, and originals and traditional material from Vasen's guitarist, Roger Tallroth, and violinist Mikael Marin. Acoustic music fans who like their improvs fast and furious will get a kick out of this one, and folks who are new to the Swedish sound will probably be inspired to check out other, older Vasen albums as well.
Darol Anger & Philip Aaberg "Cross Time" (Sweetgrass, 2008)
Hick Music Index