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Label: HighNote Records
America the Beautiful; Jerusalem Ridge; Ring of Fire; 900 Miles; We Shall Rise; Angel Band; My Epitaph; Osage Stomp; Wichita Lineman; Go Rest High on That Mountain; Lost Indian; Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain.
Joel Harrison: guitar (1-3, 5-6, 8-12), Dobro (4), 6 string banjo (5), National Steel Guitar (7), background voice (6), lead vocal (10); David Binney: alto saxophone (1-3, 5-6, 8-9, 11); Jon Cowherd: piano (2, 5-6, 10) Hammond B-3 (7, 10, 12), Wurlitzer (3); Uri Caine: piano (1, 8-9), Fender Rhodes (11); Chris Tordini: bass (1-3, 5-7, 10, 12); Stephan Crump: bass (4, 8-9, 11); Brian Blade: drums (1-3, 5-7, 10, 12), background vox (6); Allison Miller: drums (4, 8-9, 11); Darol Anger: violin (2, 5); Christian Howes: violin (4, 8, 11); Hank Roberts: cello (1, 10); Nels Cline: guitar (6); Alecia Chakour: voice (4, 7), background vox (6); Everett Bradley: voice (5), lead vocal (10); Theo Bleckmann: lead vocal (6); Nicki Logan: background vox (10); Nathan Koci: accordion (4); John Hadfield: frame drum (4); David Mansfield: pedal steel guitar (10).
My goal on the latest Free Country recording is again to arrange country and Appalachian music for a jazz group in new and unusual ways. I’m conscious of both moving forward and staying true to the elemental soul of the songs, where old stories are told by modern, protean players. Or as a friend once put it, “Downtown meets the heartland.” Whether sung straight, or approached as improvisational vehicles, I find endless currency in this material. An angel is defined as an attendant and benevolent spirit. Perhaps we musicians are entrusted to act as such. This is, of course, a serious task, and yet the beauty of these tunes is they encourage us not just to meditate and grieve but also to laugh and dance.