Had there been a planetarium in 19th-century Galicia, or a kosher deli in Depression-era Kentucky, Andy Statman’s music might have been playing in the background. Meandering through time, geography and culture in a few passionate, organic gusts of music, neither the man nor his inimitable hybrid sound has a very clearly defined “before” or “after.” Statman, one of his generation’s premier mandolinists and clarinetists, thinks of his compositions as “a spontaneous, American-roots form of very personal, prayerful hasidic music, by way of avant-garde jazz.”
This modest man takes for granted that a performer might embody several worlds in his art, and seems not to recognize that his music, like his story, is extraordinary. It’s a story Statman rewrites with his trio every time they perform: “We’re creating an experience between the audience and us.” Statman performs his distinctive, unconstrained meditations on jazz, klezmer, bluegrass and the human soul with bassist Jim Whitney and percussionist Larry Eagle. “At a certain point, we’re just talking, just having a threeway conversation.” This “conversation” changes each time they have it on stage, no melody sounding quite the same as it did before, and none bearing the definitive stamp of the genre that spawned it. A totally unselfconscious performer, Statman does not mind that many audiences leave slightly befuddled as to what kind of music, exactly, they have just heard.
Andy Statman’s Bluegrass Quartet. Listen here.