Rosanne Cash “The River & The Thread”


Rosanne Cash

The River & The Thread

By Dean S.

Rosanne, like her daddy before her, straddles the boundaries of American music.  But, because she’s a Cash, everybody thinks country.  Well that’s fine, but it’s Country with a capital “C”.  And “C” stands for craft and that is what truly differentiates Rosanne from most of the singer/songwriters out there.  Everything she does is “just so.”  No histrionics, no virtuosic displays, no self-indulgent wordplay.  Her tempos and vocals remain firmly in the middle range.  The songs themselves are, however, “river deep and mountain high.”  Consider them as you might a piece of classic Shaker furniture – unadorned, purposeful, beautiful and unmatched in the perfection of their simplicity.  As ever, John Leventhal’s contribution cannot be overstated – producing, arranging, playing most everything, and co-writing the songs.  Theirs is a true partnership and The River & The Thread is an album for the ages.


Old & In The Way “Live at the Boarding House: Complete Shows”


Old & In The Way

Live at the Boarding House: Complete Shows

By Dean S.

Forty or so years ago quite a few of us got our first taste of bluegrass music – mostly out of dedication to all things Jerry Garcia. The album and band were called Old & In The Way – Jerry on banjo, Dave Grisman mandolin, John Kahn bass, and Bill Monroe graduates Vassar Clements and Peter Rowan played, respectively, fiddle and guitar.  Everybody sang except John.  After listening to this record (repeatedly) I found myself addicted to the high lonesome harmonies and hot pickin’.  Lucky for me the bluegrass festivals in rural Illinois were plentiful and I got to see many of the music’s icons.  But I never got to see this group.  Long out of print, the album remains a favorite and although variations of the original album have been issued over the years none was ever quite so satisfying.  Acoustic Disc has rectified that situation by releasing all four of the bands legendary sets from October of 1973, including 14 previously unreleased tracks. Well, glory!

Thelonious Monk “Paris 1969”


 Thelonious Monk 

Paris 1969

By Dean S.

This late period concert finds Monk in fine, even effusive, form.  Joined by long-time tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, and a young but very effective rhythm section, Thelonious swings through a remarkable set of predominantly original works.  Solo space is fittingly dominated by Monk and Rouse, whose familiarity and agility within the context of these compositions is surpassed only by the pianist himself.  Monk is having a rollicking good-time, and his expansive solos, while maintaining their unique emphases and angularity, clearly demonstrate his familiarity and fluency with the hard swinging stride idiom.