T-BANJ ARIA (celtic-jazz fusion: tenor banjo improvisation)
FREE-FORM SOLOS zooming to every part of the fretboard and outer reaches of imagination
MILLIONS OF NOTES, lightning fast riffs, plec catching fire
"inhabits realms usually associated with Fleck and Trishka" - Folk Roots magazine
CD HM603, all instrumental, (no vocals),
"...Sully’s ambitious and successful attempt to take the tenor banjo, via Irish roots, into the new Millenium……..
A fascinating and thrilling album that demonstrates that the possibilities of imagination are endless."
- Rock ‘n’ Reel magazine,
1. T-Banj Aria (5.12 mins)
2. Silktown Bop (3.32 mins)
3. Hameston Rain Forest (3.02 mins)
4. Macctown Quietnight (3.47 mins)
5. Dublin Night Out (3.15 mins)
6. Kerr's Lea (2.57 mins)
7. Jig O'Djang (3.34 mins)
8. Melancholy Riffs (3.35 mins)
9. Jig Urbankelt (3.16 mins)
10. Moorland Expanse (4.04 mins)
11. T-Banj Aria (radio edit) (3.34mins)
Review by Anita Gwynn, on Aidan Crossey's former website: paythereckoning
Tony Sullivan (Sully) - T-Banj Aria (Halshaw Music HM603)
A previous All-Ireland banjo champion, Sully is synonymous with all things banjo-related - recordings, tunebooks and, of course, his own range of superb banjos (some of which get an impressive airing here). T-Banj Aria is his attempt to explore the possibilities of the banjo as an improvisational instrument and this courageous and compelling album is an eye-opener. Not just for banjoists, but for the lover of traditional and folk music generally.
His roots in playing Irish traditional music are plainly in view throughout. However one of the delights of this album is the subtle interweaving of other influences. American old-time and Eastern European themes recur from time to time, adding colour and emphasis.
Improvisational albums can be difficult. The lack of structure can lead to meandering and, while the sidetracks may lead to somewhere interesting, often they terminate at a cul-de-sac. No so T-Banj Aria. We suspect that Sully had previously sketched out his ideas and had a beginning, a middle and an end in mind. However, the impromptu nature of the recording process left him free to get from A to B. Along the way he gives us great colourful swathes of music and musicality, abandoned and impressionistic, unconstrained yet perfectly constructed on the hoof. Every moment of his long experience brought to bear on an ambitious and thrilling project. While the banjo is plainly the key "lead" instrument, Sully also plays bouzouki, whistle, mouth organ, bodhran and tambourine, using the additional instruments sparingly and judicially to capture a mood or overlay an impression.
The perfect album to listen to on a long, leisurely and carefree drive down the Irish West Coast or over the Northern English moorlands, a brooding sky in front of you and the clouds just skimming the tops of the peaks to left and right. The splashes of this and that departure will capture your attention, the Saturday night good time sing-song feel of Dublin Night Out, the deft manoeuvres "way up the neck" on Jig O'Djang. Themes recur throughout, patterns which appeal to both Sully and the listener and link the various pieces into a whole.
Let's not forget that the success of this venture is due in no small part to the tight band of players who work alongside Sully. Clare Allen on guitar, Rob Fawcett on bass, Roger Boden and Glenn Wiskill on drums provide a rock-solid base (THE COTTAGE GROUP) from which Sully sets out on his expeditions.
NB. The tenor is tuned C,G,D,A, and the playing is improvised.