Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Del McCoury Band

American Legacies

McCoury Music/Preservation Hall Recordings

PHJB-McCouryDixieland meets bluegrass: Right off the bat, the fact that both use banjo comes to mind. But imagining the result of such a union isn’t easy.

It might sound like bluegrass with horns. Or it could sound like Dixieland with mandolin and fiddle. On “American Legacies,” it sounds like a little of both.

When the Del McCoury Band collaborated with PHJB for “After You’ve Gone” on last year’s benefit album “Preservation,” the result was so good that McCoury’s group felt like it was just the beginning. This is the result of their muse being followed.

Attempts at fusing the two genres are not exactly without precedence: In 1971, the Kinks employed the Mike Cotton Sound to add brass to their countrified classic, “Muswell Hillbillies.” The relationship spilled over to the followup, 1972’s “Everybody’s in Showbiz.” More overt attempts at blending bluegrass with Dixieland include Pete Wernick’s group Live Five (later called Flexigrass) and Larry Keel’s BlueBrass Project. But “American Legacies” is the first time a full-on Dixieland band has made an album with a bluegrass group.

McCoury is no stranger to collaboration: In 1999, his group joined forces with Steve Earle to create the album “The Mountain.” Likewise with PHJB, whose “Preservation” contained a different collaborator on each track, including Merle Haggard, Pete Seeger, Dr. John, Tom Waits, Jim James, Jason Isbell, Richie Havens, Blind Boys of Alabama and Buddy Miller.

“American Legacies’ ” dozen new and old numbers offer plenty of adventure. Two instrumentals, “Mullensburg Joys” and “Banjo Frisco,” provide endless parades of solos. “The Sugar Blues” and “One Has My Name” put the spotlight on trumpet-fiddle interplay. “Jambalaya” has a rocksteady tuba beat tempered by Caribbean-style percussion. “I’ll Fly Away’s” gospel beginning gives way to “Saints”-style Dixieland before morphing into four-part bluegrass harmony and then back to gospel.

And it’s not all built around McCoury’s lead vocals, either — in true democratic spirit, PHJB vocalists Mark Braud and Clint Maedgen get to sing nearly as often, affording an even deeper exploration of the project’s possibilities.gnm_end_bug

Tracks
1. The Band’s In Town
2. One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart)
3. Shoeshine Blues
4. Banjo Frisco
5. A Good Gal
6. Jambalaya
7. I’ll Fly Away
8. You Don’t Have To Be A Baby To Cry
9. The Sugar Blues
10. Mullensburg Joys
11. 50/50 Chance
12. One More ‘Fore I Die

Total time: 47:12

External links
DMB’s website
PHJB’s website
amazon.com
iTunes Store

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