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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Fiddlers 4
Label: Compass Records
Fiddlers 4 showcases three veterans and one newcomer to the jazz, Cajun, and bluegrass scenes. Michael Doucet (Beausoleil), Darol Anger (David Grisman Quartet, Turtle Island String Quartet), Bruce Molsky ("the Rembrandt of Appalachian Fiddling"), and cellist Rushad Eggleston form a string quartet that explore a variety of styles on this CD.
"E. St. Louis Todalo" is a southern-flavored jazz composition that would fit in on a Leon Redbone album. An interesting juxtaposition takes place on the medley of "Just a Closer Walk With Thee/I Know", combining the traditional hymn with a more modern number Doucet points out that they share the same chord changes.
With the success of O Brother Where Art Thou?, the inclusion of "Man of Constant Sorrow" here seems almost obligatory, but the musicians make it stand up, while the vocals are somewhat lacking.
Fiddlers 4 has something in common with most of the instrumental records on the Compass label: talented, relatively unknown artists who are unafraid to cross into any area of music, refusing to be pinned down into one style. There are elements of Cajun stylings ("You Little Wild Thing", "Chez Seychelles", "Mazurka/Acadian Two-Step", "Atchfalaya Pipeline"), African rhythms ("Hidirassirifo", "African Solstice"), the islands ("Danse Caribe"), and the Appalachians ("Pickin' the Devil's Eye", "Man of Constant Sorrow", "I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free").
With the recent surge in "newgrass" sales, Fiddlers 4 should find some listeners. It's good for a change from the everyday prepackaged radio stuff definitely for fans of Celtic, Cajun, or bluegrass music.
Brian A. Smith 4/14/2002