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review: Jack Sanbower & the No Leeway Band "Echoes of a Legacy"

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  • joe ross
    Hi, any of you familiar with Jack? He s a good picker! Here s a review of his latest album. Joe Ross JACK SANBOWER & the No Leeway Band – Echoes of a Legacy
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 1, 2004
      Hi, any of you familiar with Jack? He's a good picker! Here's a review of
      his latest album.
      Joe Ross

      JACK SANBOWER & the No Leeway Band � Echoes of a Legacy
      Buck Hollow Records BHR-0104
      14461 Edgemont Road, Smithsburg, MD. 21783
      http://bhr.cjb.net Email: noleeway at aol.com OR BHRbluegrass at aol.com
      Total Playing Time � 35:25

      Eighteen musicians contribute in some form to Jack Sanbower�s new project
      called �Echoes of a Legacy.� That�s because, with the exception of two
      newly-recorded tracks (�Lady of Spain� and �Emma�s Little Lullaby�), they
      are selected from five previous album releases from Jack and his band. One
      observance is that the band has apparently had considerable turnover in
      personnel over the years, but No Leeway�s current band members (Jack
      Sanbower-banjo, Scott Eager-mandolin, Richard Sell-guitar, Carolyn
      Kellock-bass) appear on the first two tracks.

      Interestingly, the 14 instrumentals are presented in reverse chronological
      order, most recent to most historic. �Polka in the Eye� and �Cactus Jack�
      come from their 2002 �Same Old Fools� release. Then, we jump all the way
      back to 1993 for a fiery tune called �No Leeway� from an album called
      �Thinkin� of Old Memories.� Nine additional cuts are gathered from their
      1992, 1991 and 1990 albums, �Let Loose,� �Throwing Caution to the Wind,� and
      �Just Monkey�in Around.�

      The common element throughout is Jack�s artistic and proficient banjo
      playing. The reason I like these guys is because they pick with a lot of
      energy, and they�re full of tricks. I think they�d be especially
      entertaining in a live setting. Based in Maryland, Jack Sanbower plays with
      a lot of chromatic creativity and innovation. For example, check out �Down
      Shift� or �Phantom Train� as the band members share breaks among themselves.
      That band configuration in 1990-91 seems one of their best -- Ronnie Webb
      (guitar, mandolin), Pat White (fiddle), Mike Leasure (electric bass), and
      Darren Beachley (resophonic guitar). Although this album�s title refers to
      echoes, I don�t find many repetitive sounds included. Perhaps these are
      simply his reflections about a body of material from the past.

      Besides being a fine picker, �Echoes of a Legacy� is a strong showcase of
      Sanbower�s skill at writing instrumentals with a lot of bluegrass hustle.
      All but �Lady of Spain� were composed by Jack. He has a knack for catchy
      melodic riffs, and a tune like �Just Monkey�in Around� also has some
      rhythmic twists and turns that might even have been inspired by Django
      Reinhardt�s Gypsy jazz music. �Custer�s Last Stand� demonstrates a mastery
      of harmonic bell tones. Many of Sanbower�s tunes really kick and are played
      presto, in rapid tempos of about 180 beats/minute. And this review of his
      instrumental work during the last 14 years tells me that Sanbower is showing
      no signs of slowing down. (Joe Ross)

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