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Darol Anger

Republic of Strings – 2004 (Compass)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Darol Anger

Darol Anger has been heard on bluegrass recordings (e.g., Laurie Lewis), but his work tends to be on the fringes of bluegrass, such as recordings with David Grisman and in jazz. That's if his music can be pigeonholed in a particular genre as it sometimes escapes easy definition. If familiar with Bela Fleck's work, you'll hear a distinct likeness although they are parallel tracks and one is not derivative of the other.

This CD offers music from around the world. The vocals are sparse (Laurie Lewis and Sara Watkins), and the emphasis is on the violin family with some guitar thrown in. The quality of the music is flawless, but you need to like jazz-based music to enjoy it. They do touch the bluegrass world ("Old Dangerfield" and "Grigsby's Hornpipe"), but most of the numbers are unlikely to ever be heard at Bean Blossom or Merlefest. "Andre de Sabato Nuovo" is an interesting, livelyl start-and-stop Brazilian melody, while "Sneezin'" could well be heard in a smoky jazz bar late some night. He plays the blues ("Evening Prayer Blues") and for Joni Mitchell fans, Laurie Lewis sings "Help Me."

The variety of music is broad, but if you simply enjoy excellent string music without worrying about labels of bluegrass, jazz or the blues, then this is a very enjoyable listen.