JOHN HARTFORD · NORMAN BLAKE · DAVE HOLLAND “Morning Bugle”
Warner Bros. Records. LP, 1974
di alessandro nobis. Thanks Tom Smith.
(From Google Translation) “One morning he calls my manager and says I was asked for sessions with American musicians who weren’t jazzmen. I confirmed my presence with great curiosity and I must confess that I rarely enjoyed myself so much in the recording room ”: these are the words of the double bass player Dave Holland who told me at the end of a solo concert in Verona at the Teatro Camploy. And in fact this joy of playing is clearly perceptible both when listening to this LP credited to John Hartford and the one recorded in the company of Vassar Clements, Norman Blake, Butch Robins, Sam Bush, Tut Taylor and Jethro Burns recorded in ’75 for HDS Records.
John Hartford, banjoist singer, violinist and guitarist who passed away in 2001 was undoubtedly one of the most fertile minds of the so-called alternative bluegrass, often out of the box, ironic and always surprising that was able to break the mold of an almost always self-referential and repetitive music. (“Aero plane” of 1971 and “Mark Twang” of ’76 are some of the most striking proofs of this) and if Hartford and Blake required the presence of a double bass player like Holland rather than that of one like Roy Huskey Jr. (a true and perfect metronome, playing companion of a certain Doc Watson but far from the world of Prog Bluegrass, ed) means that their minds were rather “open”. At that time the English bassist was working with Sam Rivers, Barry Altshul and Antony Braxton but in these “American” sessions all his technique and lyricism that I have always distinguished emerges: his interventions in “All Fall Down”, his regal accompaniment in “Street Car” his involvement in all the Hartford compositions and his “balance” the personalities of the banjoist / singer and Norman Blake are not an added value to the album but represent his total sharing with the ideas of Hartford that he had in my opinion a stroke of genius in involving David Holland in this extraordinary project. A wonderful work this “Morning Bugle” a dip in “American” music whose history and styles are filtered by the personality of Hartford, one of the greatest and unique talents of this alternative bluegrass whose disappearance has left in musician friends and his fans a great void.
There are no outtakes on this record, the musicians played in a circle looking straight in the eye, and this is the wonderful result of those sessions.