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Tony Furtado
American Gypsy

Review By Steven Stone
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Tony Furtado American Gypsy

CD Number: What Are Records


  Is he a banjo player or a slide guitar player? Tony Furtado likes to keep you guessing. His latest album, American Gypsy, features not only his vocals, but also equal parts of banjo (he’s a two-time National Banjo Champion) and bottleneck slide guitar. His fifth solo album since 1989, This album covers a wide gamut of musical styles from Blues to Celtic with even some rootsy rock and roll thrown in. The opening cut "Oh Bertha Bertha" morphs a traditional old time tune into an electric blues moan. The second tune "Angry Monk" features an elegant solo acoustic guitar riff that is soon joined by banjo and slide guitar parts before it veers off into jazz territory.

Joined by Myron Dove on bass, John Burr on keyboards, horn and flautist Paul McCandless, guitarist Gawain Mathews, and drummers Tom Brechtlein and Aaron Johnson, Furtado leads his musical troops through radical remakes of Mike Nesmith's "Shelly’s Blues," the traditional "Staggerlee," and a number of original tunes. Despite all the musical firepower at his disposal, Furtado still remains grounded in melody and traditional acoustic textures.

My favorite song on American Gypsy is "Hartford," written in honor of the late John Hartford, whose pioneering and eclectic work influenced many younger players, including Tony Furtado. Lyrical, whimsical, and slightly wistful, "Hartford" rambles breezily through changes that conjure up images of majestic riverboats steaming down John Hartford’s beloved Mississippi river.

American Gypsy proves how much room exists between the poles of traditional roots material and modern jazz for poignant accessible intelligent music. Tony Furtado delivers the goods.




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