Abigail Washburn  & The Sparrow Quartet (2008)

Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet by Abigail Washburn, Béla Fleck, Casey Driessen and Ben Sollee was released on the 20th of May 2008

1 Overture 2:35
2 A Fuller Wine 5:00
3 Strange Things 4:55
4 Great Big Wall in China 6:08
5 Taiyang Chulai 2:37
6 Oh Me, Oh My 3:30
7 Captain 5:55
8 A Kazakh Melody 1:47
9 Banjo Pickin' Girl 3:00
10 Sugar & Pie 4:56
11 Kangding Qingge / Old Timey Dance Party 4:43
12 It Ain't Easy 3:41
13 Journey Home 4:13

The Sweeping Wind (Kwa Ti Feng) is the first song of Rock'n Roll with the Modern Lovers, it's one of the first chinese surf doo wop song I ever heard back in 77. Just listen to Abigail and enjoy the sweeping wind...

Bridging musical worlds can be a challenge (I'm looking at you, Pat Boone's In a Metal Mood...), but Nashville-based songstress Abigail Washburn pulls it off with aplomb (sans leather vests, thankfully) on her new self-titled album with the Sparrow Quartet. Washburn blends the banjo-laden bluegrass of her native Appalachia with Chinese folk music, and the resulting sound is fresh and surprisingly cohesive.

It doesn't hurt that Washburn is joined by her fellow Sparrows, an all-star cast comprising Béla Fleck on banjo, Casey Driessen on violin and Ben Sollee on cello. Together, they combine Eastern sounds with bluegrass, a fusion that never sounds forced—surprising, yes, but fluid and often strangely appropriate.

Washburn's vocals are similarly multifaceted She channels Joan Osbourne on "Strange Things," then reminds us that she's a country gal on up-tempo album highlight "Banjo Pickin' Girl."

"Sugar and Pie," a track near the album's end, offers up Chinese lyrics sung sweetly over vaguely Eastern banjo chords. When the Sparrow Quartet joins in for an instrumental free-for-all near the song's conclusion, the result is a distinct sound that has its feet in two worlds. For Washburn, that's a familiar stance.


(Nettwerk Records)

Period pieces from banjo-player Washburn, assisted ably by the always-underfoot-somewhere Bela Fleck and the well-heeled fiddle of Casey Driessen. If you can’t wait for this week’s episode of Deadwood to end so you can dig on the Stephen Foster-era truthiness during the end credits, this is the thing you want, and Washburn’s voice often has a user-friendly Annie Hayden/Lisa Loeb quality that makes it kinda sexy in an awkward way when you can get the thoughts of Bonnie Raitt out of your head. NPR eggheads to a fault, this bunch can probably be found busking around town prior to whatever coffee shop or world symposium is supporting their granola habit that week, not to ignore the fact that their bubbly-busy tuneage is intensely soulful and probably a lot more relaxing than whatever’s passing for chill around your homestead at the moment.




"Abigail Washburn stomped and skipped through fiery Appalachian takes on the local songs of Sichuan. Her bilingualism's no gimmick,” hailed the L.A. Times in a review of The Sparrow Quartet’s performance at Coachella.  “She nails the dips and peaks of pitch while leading her band in scorching variations on simple, repetitive traditional melodies...she ended one Chinese song about the pan-ethnic subject of baby-making by saying "That's some hot stuff from the Sichuan province there."

May 2008 marks the release of Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet, the follow-up to Abigail’s acclaimed Nettwerk debut, Song of the Traveling Daughter.  In the fall of 2006, the Sparrow Quartet – which features world renowned banjoist, composer Bela Fleck (also the album’s producer), Grammy-nominated fiddler Casey Driessen and roots/classical cellist Ben Sollee - became the first artists to tour Tibet and China on a US government sponsored cultural mission.  The new album is an intimate exploration of crossing global and cultural lines brought to life by the borderless sounds of two banjos, fiddle and cello.  The music is raw and highly composed, equally hopeful and acutely aware of the struggle of life.  Music for the global citizen.  Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet will begin their first major touring of the US and abroad in the spring of 2008.

Narodila se v Illinois v USA, je jí 29 let, hraje na banjo, zpívá nejen anglicky, ale také čínsky a její kapelu tvoří hvězdy bluegrassu. Jmenuje se Abigail Washburn.

Abigail Washburn

Na bluegrass jsem nikdy moc nebyl a asi ani nikdy nebudu. U nahrávky Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet jsem ale musel udělat výjimku.

Hudba Abigail Washburn má totiž přesahy do jiných žánrů, včetně vážné hudby a jazzu. Producentem alba “Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet” je novátor a jeden z nejlepších hráčů na banjo Béla Fleck. “Dokázal ze mě dostat daleko víc, než jsem si myslela, že budu kdy schopna”, řekla Abigail Washburn o spolupráci s Bélou Fleckem.

Kapelu The Sparrow Quartet dále tvoří cellista Ben Sollee, který doprovází Abigail už delší dobu a velice uznávaný hráč na pětistrunné housle Casey Driessen. A nutno říct, že tato kombinace spolu s rozdílnými styly hry na banjo Washburn a Flecka je absolutně okouzlující. Stejně tak, jako kombinace amerického bluegrassu a čínských textů.



Photo taken May 24, 2008 at The Asheville Music Jamboree in Asheville, North Carolina, United States.

Left to right: Béla Fleck (bluegrass banjo), Abigail Washburn (clawhammer banjo), Ben Sollee (cello), and Casey Driessen (5-string fiddle). Author: Kevin Bond.

The Sparrow Quartet is an American acoustic music group that formed in 2005. Its members include Abigail Washburn (banjo and voice), Bela Fleck (banjo), Casey Driessen (violin), and Ben Sollee (cello). The group is known for its mixture of old-time music with Chinese lyrics and melodies, owing to Washburn's long-standing interest in Chinese culture.