This is the second recording from San Francisco based Scroggins & Rose, a duo presenting twelve original tunes. Unlike their 2017 project, Grana, (reviewed in this publication in October 2017), this new project contains all original instrumentals and it builds somewhat on the first recording. It expands their creativity as they draw on Bach as well as bluegrass’ compact structure.
You may recognize the Tristen Scroggins name as he’s the son of Jeff Scroggins, banjo playing leader for the retired band, Jeff Scroggins & Colorado. Both Scroggins take their music to enjoyable creative extremes. Tristen has won many awards in his own name and his energy is on display on Curios. Regarding his music, he reported on the website of Mandolin Cafe he was working out “how to apply it to the music I’m creating with Alisa Rose for our duet. We spent the last year preparing to record another record composing more bluegrass/classical crossover music, this time with a partial focus on counterpoint melody. So part of that was studying some Bach and Mozart and attempting to perform some of those pieces with just mandolin and violin.” That is the overall summary of Curios.
Rose, a violinist and composer, is a modern classical musician who has studied classical music extensively, has played with a wide variety of artists, and has toured/taught in Europe as an Ambassador of the State Department. She has also appeared with the Grammy-nominated Quartet San Francisco. Her knowledge, experience, and skill are evident on this recording, as only she and Scroggins are playing all the notes.
Make no mistake, Scroggins & Rose are not trying to slip their music in as bluegrass per se, but rather to share their experiences in touching both the world of Western classical and American traditional music by exploring the dynamics and capabilities of a string duet.
No information is provided as to how the names of the tunes were chosen, so without lyrics you are free to choose your own story or visual. At any rate, you’re likely to hear something that reminds you of Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, Bela Fleck, or especially David Grisman.
REVIEWED BY BOB WEBSTER
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