Andy Statman / Monroe Bus
2019, Shefa Records, HORN-3008
CD and MP3s available from retailers everywhere (Amazon, iTunes, etc.)
In its way, this is a tribute album to Bill Monroe, father of what we now call bluegrass. But it is also Andy's compositions, inspired by Bill Monroe, filtered through a different lifetime, with the avant garde and klezmer and Jewish nigunim that are also Andy Statman. As Andy writes in the liner notes, "During the mixing, it once again became clear to me how the music one plays and writes is a reflection of the life a person lives". Think of it as bluegrass for a Hasidic klezmer fan. And, boy, is it good. It also features Andy only on mandolin - he, himself, plays no clarinet. In keeping with a dear-to-me KlezmerShack theme, this album is also a rewarding expression of what happens to bluegrass in this generation - what bluegrass sounds like in 2019 vs 1939 or 1959.
On this recording, the band consists of Andy's regulars: Jim Whitney on bass, and Larry Eagle on drums, adding in a few bluegrass regulars to anchor the sound. Things open with "Monroe Bus" and "Reminiscence"—pure bluegrass. Even "Ain't no place for a girl like you," is bluegrass-ish. But, it doesn't take long for Andy to be Andy. It's the same mandolin playing "Ice cream on the moon," but it's bluegrass filtered through a whole 'nother lens.
At the same time, more than other recent recordings, this album really is about bluegrass. Even the mild rock 'n' roll/prog rock tinge of "Brooklyn Hop", like the earlier "Ice Cream on the moon", fits a Bill Monroe frame of mind (even though Mr. Monroe might declare otherwise). What is also apparent is Andy's lightning picking on songs such as "Mockingbird" or "Raw Ride." He hasn't slowed down at all. The album closes with "Burger and Fries," featuring lush violin and organ - a nign using instrumentation from another tradition, and yet, still entirely bluegrass.
This album is Andy playing more straightforward bluegrass than is often the case. It is comfort food for a winter lockdown (as I type this), and yet, with the intricacy and exploration and yiddishkeit that make it an Andy Statman album. Available from your usual retailers and streaming services. Enjoy!
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 23 Dec 2021
Personnel this recording:
Andy Statman: clarinets, mandolin
Jim Whitney: bass
Larry Eagle: drums, percussion
Michael Cleveland: fiddle
Glenn Patscha: pump organ, Hammond A100 organ, piano
Michael Daves: accoustic guitar [1, 9, 12]
Jeffrey Werbock: kamanche and davul 
Mark Berney: cornet 
The Statettes: clarinets [2, 7, 9]
Brorbinsky State Radio Choir: vocals 
- Monroe Bus 3:13
- Reminisce 3:41
- Ice cream on the moon 3:24
- Ain't no place for a girl like you 5:00
- Reflections 4:10
- Old East River Road 3:12
- Brooklyn Hop 3:39
- Lakewood Waltz 2:38
- Statman Romp 2:39
- Mockingbird 2:18
- Brorby's Blues 4:08
- Raw ride 2:46
- Burger and Fries 3:54
All songs composed by Andy Statman