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Tin Hat Trio

THE RODEO ERODED (Ropeadope) • Tin Hat Trio

Mind expanding, heartwarming genius of this magnitude no musical home should be without. I am utterly flabbergasted this first frost of a Saturday morning by the beauty, the spirit of playful invention, and the ineffable artistry behind this recording. I don't know if this is down home highbrow or high falluting folk music, but we like it, a lot. Seriously, these are classically trained composers who weave elements of many cultures and periods together, with astonishingly lighthearted and poignant results. Funky, too.

This record is very different from any we've ever covered. The musicians are playing instruments you've heard all your life, playing styles you're familiar with, but tying them together with an avant garde approach. But don't let the term scare you off. That approach shows up both in composition and improvisation, and the interplay is sometimes hard to distinguish. Not that it matters; it's a great listening experience, that's all that counts. Otherwise, one could be daunted by the fact that the trio is composing and performing a series of pieces for themselves and the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, or scoring animated films on insects and the like. But hey, it's just music.

Tin Hat Trio is, in fact, hugely popular and tours the world. I'd heard them here and there on NPR, and always found the snippets between All Things Considered and Fresh Air provocative and fun. But this Ropeadope Records release, you gotta get it, it's too cool.

The two men in the trio went to elementary school together. Mark Orton (who wrote the lion's share of this disc) plays guitar, banjo, and dobro, and Rob Burger plays accordion, piano, and harmonicas. Carla Kihlstedt (who met Orton at the Peabody Conservatory) plays violin, viola, trumpet violin, and vocalizes. Rob and Carla have CDs out or imminent on John Zorn's Tzadik label.

Tango, Eastern European folk music, country, a little bluegrass, classical, avant garde--there are so many forms intermingled here, so masterfully, it just needs to be heard to be communicated. Luckily, you can proceed directly to the clips on the Listen page. More fortunate still, you can buy it here. • FG

view cover        listen to clips        tinhattrio.com

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