SOUNDS RESURRECTED: NANCY BLAKE “Grand Junction”
Rounder Records. LP, 1985
di alessandro nobis, kindly translated by Jay Beale
” Grand Junction ” is the only solo album by Nancy “Short” Blake, multi-instrumentalist and composer from Missouri whose artistic and sentimental life took a turn when, in 1972, she opened a Norman Blake concert with her ensemble “Natchez Trace” who had recently embarked on a solo career. Her first instrument was the cello but later she became an excellent mandolinist, violinist, guitarist, accordionist and finally a singer, one of the members of that “Rising Fawn String Ensemble” that has for year delighted the finest palates of the “American “; In fact, the violinist James Bryan (of RFSE) and the banjoist Tom Jackson collaborate in this work, in addition to her husband Norman.
Apart from the song that opens the disc, ” Florida’s Rag ” by the great John Hartford (Nancy on mandolin, Norman on guitar) and ” The Crysanthemum ” by Scott Joplin, you can listen to all original songs obviously respectful of tradition that few as the musicians involved know so thoroughly. Of course the understanding between Blake (s) is perfect, ” In Russia “, The Crysanthemun “(by Joplin) and” Lima Road Jig “are there to confirm it but the arrangements of the pieces in quartet are also truly splendid, such as” Walk along ”and“ Three Ponies ”. Nancy Blake is, as mentioned, a very talented instrumentalist who can also record multiple tracks to record a song (“Year of the Locust ”where he records two tracks with the mandolin and one with the guitar) and at the same time offer a“ solo ”piece for five-string violin as“ Mahnuknuk ”inspired by the homonymous god of banality Eskimo.
I do not think there is a CD version of this unfortunately unique work by Nancy Blake, certainly remains the purity of her music and the passion that transpires from it.