CD Stock Number: Compass Records 7 4334 2
Putting four fiddlers together does not sound like a promising concept for an album. The potential for another CD full of fiddle tunes played really fast is not encouraging. But if the fiddlers you pick are musicians like Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Michael Doucet, and Rushad Eggleston, the results can be fantastic.
From the opening pulse of "Pickin the Devil's Eye" (ouch) Fiddlers 4 has a tone and musical texture that is both earthy and transcendent. Michael Doucet's vocal on "You Little Wild Thing (La Betaille)" shows what genuine Cajun-style singing is all about. Bruce Molsky is not only a fine fiddler but a super stride-style guitarist. His playing on "East St. Louis Todalo" moves with the assurance of a steamroller on fresh asphalt. Other material comes from as far a field as Africa, "Hidirassirifo", the Caribbean, "Danse Caribe", Hungary, "Mazurka", and the good 'ol USA, "Man of Constant Sorrow." Stylistically the playing is as varied as the song selection. Beside Michael Doucet's Cajun fiddling, Darol Anger's jazz style, and Bruce Molsky's old-timey sound, there is Rushad Eggleston's modern world-music approach. Yes, you will find something for nearly every fiddling taste on Fiddlers 4.
Production values on Fiddlers 4 is first rate. Recording engineer Tim Carter captures a rich string ensemble sound while still preserving the individual melody lines. The mix has just enough ambience to warm up the sound without getting it too wet and sloppy. On the packaging side the photographs by Anne Hamersky contribute a lot to the playful and energetic ambience of the release. My only complaint is the lack of credits on each individual selection informing us as to who is playing what and the order of their solos.
Fiddlers 4 certainly is not your usual acoustic music album. If you want to hear music that pushes musical boundaries and expands your harmonic horizons, slap this on your CD player. It will stretch your ears in a good way.
Sound Quality: 95