At times energetic and driven, at other times melancholic and contemplative, Edgar Meyer’s self-titled recording, Edgar Meyer, is a testament to his diverse interests and talents in both music and performance. Meyer pulls out all the stops on this very personal project of his: he wrote, performed, and produced all the selections on this CD. He freely borrows from a wide range of musical styles, including classical, bluegrass, jazz, blues, and even gospel; it’s a veritable stew of Americana music. He plays all the instruments as well: bass, piano, mandolin, guitar, dobro, banjo, and viola de gamba (an older fretted precursor to the violin string family that dates back to 15th Century Spain). Meyer’s reputation with the doublebass is well known in both the worlds of classical and country/bluegrass music, but here he reveals a number of surprises with other instruments, particularly the piano. He’s simply wonderfully facile on the piano, able to deliver flowing melodies and percussive rhythms with equal grace and power. Meyer even recorded the tracks in his home recording studio, overdubbing the various instruments. With some musicians, this could have ended up sounding like a half-baked vanity project, ill conceived and poorly executed, but Meyer took his time (he spent nearly a year recording it) and made sure everything was as good as possible. His work and dedication shows; this recording is soundly conceived and expertly executed.
“Roundabout” sparkles and shimmers with energy and compulsion. It’s a wonderful demonstration of his surprisingly dexterous ability at the piano. It trades jazzily explosive runs on the piano with smooth water-like explorations from his bowed bass. It’s fascinating music and one of my favorites on the CD. “Degree of Separation” balances moody introspection with an appealing dissonance, and maintains throughout an improvisational feel to it. The melody is haunting and spare. “Woody Creek” opens with a delicate mandolin solo, but quickly cranks up the energy. It is very lyrical and infectious, with more than a nod to its bluegrass origins and is performed with a joyous frenzy.
If you are a fan of Edgar Meyer and his music, and there are quite a few fans out there, then you won’t be disappointed with this recording. I have a feeling that this recording will create even more fans for this inventive and accomplished musician. Edgar Meyer is obviously a labor of love. But it’s not only good, it borders on the sublime.
TrackList: First Things First, Roundabout, Interlude 1, Please Don’t Feed the Bear, Whatever, In Hindsight, Interlude 2, The Low Road, Just As I Thought, Catch and Release, Interlude 3, Woody Creek, Degree of Separation, Interlude 4.
– Hermon Joyner