Béla Bartók (arr. by Jake Schepps): Violin Duets, Dances, Folk Tunes, and Sketches
Jake Schepps (banjo), Ryan Drickey (violin), Matt Flinner (mandolin), Ross Martin, Grant Gordy, (guitar), Ben Sollec (cello), Eric Thorin, Greg Garrison, Ian Hutchinson (bass)
Recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, and Colorado (2011) – 49’03
Mighty Fine Records Ref. #: 103
With this East-Meets-West string band CD, banjoist-arranger Jake Schepps makes musical magic. Schepps takes a striking leap, not only moving his art forward, but raising the bar for those around him. Devoted to arrangements of folk-influenced music by Hungarian composer and pioneer of ethnomusic Béla Bartók, this recording broadens the horizons of the string band, proving that the scintillating mix of banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and guitar need not be limited to Americana tradition.
An Evening in the Village sees Schepps and his virtuoso cohort re-envision Bartók’s modernist takes on old Eastern European melodies, as if the collective were an Appalachian band jamming after hours in a Transylvanian town hall. The moods range from the gorgeously bittersweet title track and haunting full-moon “Melody” to the whirling, off-kilter hooks of “Ruthenian Kolomeika”, and “Cousin Sally Brown”, an old-time Anglo-American fiddle tune given an East-Meets-West spin.
This is Schepps’ second album. His first recording Ten Thousand Leaves was quite successful. It is obvious now that he has established himself as a figure in the new acoustic movement alongside the likes of Flinner, the Punch Brothers, and other folk-bred string band musicians who have stepped out to play adventurous compositions on traditional instruments.
A fascinating adventure.