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Stolen Moments by Alison Brown

Banjo player extraordinaire Alison Brown’s latest album, Stolen Moments, is a fine recording, full of great songs and displaying some masterfully executed musicianship. It’s also the type of album that I hate to write reviews on. The reason being is that I’m a jazz reviewer. Jazz is the only type of music I write critiques on, and Stolen Moments is not, in my opinion, a jazz album. Stolen Moments is a bluegrass/folk album. This potentially puts me in the precarious position of having to defend my definition of exactly what jazz is. While some people might consider bluegrass an offshoot (no pun intended) of jazz, I personally do not.

Be all that as it may, now that I’ve let it be known what I think this recording isn’t, let me now speak a little more about what I think it is. As I said, it features some of the finest musicianship that I’ve heard in quite some time. Brown’s banjo playing is truly impeccable. The songs presented here (six of the eleven written or co-written by Brown) are all very likeable tunes; each is relaxing and easy to get into, with great melodies and rich harmonies. While I call this a bluegrass/folk album, it does feature quite a bit of variety. A couple of the songs, like "Carrowkeel" for example, do show some jazz leanings (mainly from John R. Burr’s piano). Several of the songs have a strong Celtic feel. Paul Simon’s "Homeward Bound" is a pleasant surprise (with the Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, on vocals). Brown even included a Jimi Hendrix tune, "Angel," sung beautifully by Beth Nielsen Chapman.

The list of musicians that join Brown on this album is equally impressive, including The Boomchicks, Sam Bush, Mary Chapin Carpenter, John Doyle, Stuart Duncan, Seamus Egan, Kenny Malone, Mike Marshall, Robbie McIntosh, Sally Truitt, Sally Van Meter and Andrea Zonn (though everyone's role is not listed in the song credits).

Stolen Moments isn’t a jazz record, but it’s extremely well-produced, well-played and highly accessible. If you like the sound of the banjo or have an affinity for folk music in general, this may be exactly what you’re looking for.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Alison Brown
  • CD Title: Stolen Moments
  • Genre: Folk Jazz
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Compass Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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