The Duo: Woodshop

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cover of The Duo: Woodshop

released 2012

fiddlistics music

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Darol Anger and Mike Marshall’s latest work. On Adventure Records. This is a premium disc, a digipak with a 12 page booklet.

Much of this recording was conceived as a twenty-year update and progression from the Duo’s masterpiece Chiaroscuro, released on Windham Hill Records in 1985, which, amazingly, sold over 65,000 copies over a 5 year period. As we have both learned so much about life and music since then, we hoped to extrapolate on what became a lot of people’s favorite instrumental recording. We wanted to make a musical “message from the frontier” that would reflect our present emotional, intellectual and spiritual selves.

Again, we have purposely created highly structured orchestral works, which would be difficult (but not impossible) to perform live. Again, we tried not to get too hung up on perfection but to communicate a vibe. And again, we wanted to showcase the glorious sound of our string instruments playing music in a space “big enough to do it in.” (adapted from the liner notes by Darol Anger)

George Harrison once stated, “It doesn’t matter if you are the greatest guitar player in the world, if you’re not enlightened, forget it.” Conceived as a sequel to the monumental 1985 album Chiaroscuro, Woodshop captures the enlightenment in each and every note, as well as with the silent spaces left between them.” -Joe Ross

From the
December 2007 JazzTimes:

“According to Darol Anger’s liner notes, he and longtime collaborator Mike Marshall had several aims when they recorded Woodshop. Topping the list: one, “To create highly structured orchestral works”; two, “Not to get too hung up on perfection but to communicate a vibe”; and three, “To showcase the glorious sound of our string instruments.”

They succeeded on all counts, but the album’s 14 performances sound a lot less calculated than the list above suggests. For all the intricately woven arrangements and the obvious attention paid to capturing crisp sonics, there’s an engaging spontaneity (and moments of sheer whimsy) that informs this session. Of course, you might expect as much from an album that opens with the delightful Marshall favorite “Peter Pan,” before paying tribute to Bach and, in passing, Eddie Harris via Anger’s “Bach, Up.” During “Replaceitall,” another Anger gem, the duo conjures a saw-toothed fiddle equivalent of the Rolling Stones’ rhythmic attack, then moves on to evoke the sound of a Turkish orchestra locked in buzzing unison on Marshall’s “The Creep.”

As always, both musicians have their hands full. Anger primarily plays violin (though he also deploys cello, “schwang guitar” and “electro-banjo creepola”), while Marshall ever-so-nimbly multitasks on mandolin (plus numerous variations thereof), guitars, bass and other instruments. Colorfully augmenting the duets are several tracks that feature some familiar fellow travelers, most notably pianist Phil Aaberg and bassists Todd Phillips and Michael Manring.” -Mike Joyce

updated: 7 months ago