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BellaOnline's Folk Music Editor


Alex Hargreaves Prelude Review

Guest Author - Chris Curtis

Alex Hargreaves, already an accomplished musician before the age of 20, displays an impressive resume. He is thoroughly versed in a diverse range of string music from traditional to modern and is the youngest musician to ever win the Grand Champion division at the National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest. Plus, Alex has an extraordinary record of stage credits. According to Mike Marshall, only a few possess the musical language with the melodic and harmonic sense that comes naturally to Alex. As young as he is, he possesses an old musical soul.

Prelude is Alex's first solo effort and he comes out of the gate with a strong classical and jazz influenced project. What makes the arrangements of these jazzy styled compositions interesting is the use of traditional bluegrass instrumentation. Its a project filled with edgy progressive fusions as these young musicians push the rules out and beyond the traditional walls.

The mix of selections on the CD lend themselves to a variety of musical influences that characterize Alex's range of artistry. Throughout this collection, you can hear bits of Jazz, Classical, Bluegrass and Celtic - sort of like picking out the best fruits with which to make a sangria; each piece of fruit is good but blended together make up an uncommon explosion of pleasure.

Prelude is produced and mixed by Mike Marshall by whom Alex has clearly been influenced. The sound is crisp and clear and each instrument is distinguishable from the others. Make no mistake, however, this is Alex's project as he has artfully arranged each tune and has solely or in collaboration composed five of the nine cuts on it.

The interplay between the fiddle and banjo on Shasta is reminiscent of interplay between the hammered dulcimer, banjo and cello on the The Bee Eaters project. Wes Corbett and Tristen Clarridge of The Bee Eaters contribute to this project as co-composers along with Alex, and Nate Heath for the heavily Bluegrass influenced Lonesome Clapper. The second tune of the CD, Big Hook, is also highly influenced by Bluegrass structures yet maintains the looser Jazz music standards. Starting with a jazzy gypsy swing arrangement, the duel piece There Will Never Be Another You/Not You Again falls back to the more traditional big band sound only played strictly with stringed instrumentation adding a measure of complexity to the familiar sound. Strong influences from Darol Anger and Casey Driessen can be heard on Road Song with the steady percussive chop of the fiddle defining the tempo and beat.

Project Title:Prelude
Artist:Alex Hargreaves
Released:2010 Adventure Music
Produced by:Mike Marshall
Recorded:C-Change, Berkeley, CA August 25-28, 2008 Engineered by Dave Luke
Mastered: Kenneth Lee Mastering, Oakland, CA
Mixed: Dave Luke and Mike Marshall at Gator Land Studios
Record Label:Adventure Music America

Song List/Credits
Shasta(Alex Hargreaves; Xander Music)
Big Hook( Alex Hargreaves; Xander Music)
April Joy(Pat Metheny; Pat Meth Music Dorp. BMI)
There Will Never Be Another You/Not You Again(Harry Warren & Mack Gordon ASCAP/BMI Four Jays Music, Mattsam Music, Morley Music)("Not You Again" John Scofield; Scoway Music)
Look What You've Done(Mike Marshall, Alex Hargreaves, Paul Kowert; Rotagilla Music BMI, Xander Music)
Lost in Lunel(Alex Hargreaves; Xander Music)
Road Song(Wes Montgomery; Taggie Music BMI)
Lonesome Clapper(Wes Corbett, Alex Hargreaves, Nate Leath, Tristan Clarridge; Zander Music)
Summer Soft(Stevie Wonder: Black Bull Music INC, Jobete Music Co., Inc. ASCAP)

Guest Artists
Mike Marshall: Mandolin
Paul Kowert: Bass
Grant Gordy: Guitar
Bela Fleck: Banjo
Noam Pikelny: Banjo

This CD was provided to the Folk Music editor by the record label at no cost for review purposes.

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Content copyright © 2018 by Chris Curtis. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Chris Curtis. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


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