East Flatbush Blues

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Andy Statman is known both for his clarinet and mandolin playing, and he is equally adept at both.  Sometimes his two worlds collide, but East Flatbush Blues finds him sticking to his strings, while the simultaneously recorded Awakening from Above is meant to showcase Statman’s clarinet work.

He’s a restless performer with deep roots in Americana as well as various strains of world music (particularly klezmer), but this one’s all about the former, skipping from bluegrass to blues to traditional mountain music (with more than a bit of a New York touch, hence the title, which reflects on Statman’s 1979 Flatbush Waltz) with ease.

Statman works here with bassist Jim Whitney and drummer Larry Eagle, and there is plenty of room for them to improvise — Whitney, in particular, sets off on a number of well thought-out solos.  But mainly it’s about Statman’s virtuosity — from the first bars of the opening cover of  Bill Monroe’s “Rawhide,” in which Statman reels off lightning licks on his axe, the focus is primarily on his fingers.

Statman offers his takes on such standards as “Golden Slippers” and “Arkansas Traveler,” but it’s his original compositions, among them the earthy title track and the spare “Roots Waltz,” that prove the most impressive on the disc.

Statman does break out the clarinet for a ten-minute tour de force reconfiguration of the trad “Old Joe Clark” that heads into some fairly psychedelic avant-garde territory, but the track seems out of place on this otherwise unadorned recording.

Andy Statman was born in Brooklyn, New York City. He first gained acclaim as a mandolinist in pioneering bluegrass bands Country Cookin’ and Breakfast Special.  Statman, who grew up in a traditional but secular Jewish home, began to explore his Jewish roots. He turned to Klezmer music, traditional Eastern European Jewish instrumental music. Now playing clarinet, he recorded various albums that were highly influential in the Klezmer revival that began in the late 70s. Soon, he began playing Chassidic melodies, fusing bluegrass, klezmer, and jazz along the way.

Statman learned Klezmer clarinet from legendary Klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras, who bequeathed several of his clarinets to him. Statman also produced Dave Tarras’s last recording. Given this apprenticeship and his subsequent teaching at workshops such as KlezKamp as well as privately, Statman has become the dean of living Klezmer clarinetists.

The Andy Statman Trio, which includes bassist Jim Whitney and percussionist Larry Eagle, plays regularly at Derech Amuno Synagogue in Greenwich Village in New York City, and tours nationally as schedules allow.

In 1983, he performed on the Antilles Records release Swingrass ’83.

He has participated in a yearly Klezmer concert series with Itzhak Perlman and other Klezmer superstars.

In 2007, he was a Grammy Awards nominee in the Country Instrumental category for his version of Bill Monroe’s “Rawhide” on Shefa CD “East Flatbush Blues.

In 2008, Statman appeared as a guest on Bela Fleck and the Flecktones holiday album Jingle All the Way, playing both clarinet and mandolin. The album won Best Pop Instrumental Album at the 51st Grammy Awards. He joined the group in concert on December 10 at University at Buffalo, Center for the Arts, and December 16 at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center.

His current recording project, slated to be released in 2011 on Shefa Records, is tentatively entitled “Old Brooklyn,” a two-CD set featuring the American roots, R&B, Chassidic and other sides of his music, performed with his trio and a number of guest artists. Per Andy: “A 2-CD set, Old Brooklyn, will be available this year and will include my trio with Jim Whitney and Larry Eagle, along with Byron Berline, Jon Sholle, Ricky Skaggs, Béla Fleck, Paul Shaffer, Bruce Molsky, Art Baron, Marty Rifkin, Bob Jones, and Lew Soloff.

Album: “East Flatbush Blues” by Andy Statman

Price: $9.99 (listen to samples | buy CD)
Genres: Singer/Songwriter, Jazz, Country, Bluegrass, World, Contemporary Country, Klezmer, New Acoustic
Released:  October 10,  2006 ℗ 2006 Shefa Records


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