ACL Fest Sunday Reviews

ACL Fest Sunday Reviews

Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet

(Nettwerk)

Bringing new meaning to the concept of musical fusion, Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet are virtuosos of the first order. With an unlikely combination of two banjos, provided by Washburn and Béla Fleck; Ben Sollee's cello; and the five-string fiddle of Grammy-nominated Casey Driessen, the fourpiece draws from classical, Chinese folk, gospel, and bluegrass. The result is an eccentric, irresistible new world of acoustic music that's remarkably confident and unexpectedly soulful. Occasionally, Washburn sings in Chinese, which only adds to the unrepentant folk flavor of the disc, but its suitelike unfolding enhances the cross-cultural characteristics; few discs envelope the listener in a self-created atmosphere the way this one does. The ardent interplay between Washburn and Fleck will amaze, particularly on the sequence that begins with the bedeviled, old-timey "Captain," segues into the traditional Chinese "A Kazakh Melody," and explodes into the bluegrass "Banjo Pickin' Girl." (12:30pm, AT&T stage.)

***

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