Sunday, June 12, 2011
Thoughts on Andy Irwin's Lip Service
What a weird and wonderful gem it is!
The next line will turn some people off, but you need to keep reading. It's a CD that features a lot of whistling. Whistling is by far an under-rated art form, and it has such overtones of hokeyness, that even the accordian does not outrank it for kitschy connotation. But really great whistling is an art, as it only took listening to the opening track, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," to convince me. Andy is accompanied by the Kandinsky trio - Benedict Goodfriend, violinist, Alan Weinstein, cellist,and Elizabeth Bachelder on the piano. The most familiar instrument to compare a whistler to is the flute, and there are very flute-like jazz riffs during the piece. But whistling is ultimately mouth and teeth (I suppose. I can't whistle.) And there's something very human about it. Another parallel is scat singing. Andy pulls tricks with whistling that remind me a lot of Ella Fitzgerald's vocal gymnastics, and - I cannot explain how this is so - Andy's whistling sounds like Andy's voice. Of course, it is his voice, but it sounds like him. There were parts I was listening to, and I'd think, "That sounds exactly like Andy!"
Andy does my favorite kind of music - serious musicianship coupled with leavening wit. The second track is Old Joe Clark, a great bluegrass standard, performed as Indian music. Not since The Squirrel Nut Zippers transformed Camp Town Races into an Eastern European Gypsy tune have I heard such an unlikely and strangely apt rendition. Also not to be missed are Andy's multi-tracked rendition of Low Rider and Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.
I won't mention each song individually because the review would outlast your patience, but this is a CD well worth owning.