review: Jack Sanbower & the No Leeway Band "Echoes of a Legacy"
- Hi, any of you familiar with Jack? He's a good picker! Here's a review of
his latest album.
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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