Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bethany & Rufus: 900 Miles

They used to say on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, “now for something completely different.” On this Traditional Tuesday, I’m featuring a traditional American folk song in a jazzed up arrangement. Some may consider that the fusing these two styles is a musical train wreck, but it works well in a minimalist fashion as Bethany and Rufus do the classic railroad folk song “900 Miles” (not to be confused with 500 miles).

Bethany Yarrow is the daughter of Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary and certainly has a folk heritage. When she teams up with Rufus Cappadocia, she crosses over into the jazz genre – not unlike what Maria Muldaur did decades ago. From what I can tell, the recording only contains only Bethany’s vocal and ‘cello played by Rufus pizzicato style.

Actually, I believe there is at least a second ‘cello that was overdubbed on this recording. If you listen closely, you will hear a second (and perhaps a third) ‘cello playing in the left speaker as an answer to the main ‘cello parts – higher and a little more percussive. There is also a ‘cello played arco as well - it may be the same track as the the high pizzicato ‘cello as they do not seem to be playing simultaneously. It is a little down in the mix so it may not be that evident the first time you listen - but it is definitely there.

I stumbled on this song looking for American folk tunes and it was a rather nice experience. It is obvious that Cappadocia is a master ‘cellist; however, on some of their other recordings, he is a little more avant garde than my tastes run. This occurs mostly during the solos that he plays prior to the main tune in which Bethany sings.

This Yarrow is not her father’s Oldsmobile – she is more like an Avanti Convertible. Enjoy.

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