Andy Statman

Old Brooklyn

It’s not often I hear an album as entirely good as this one, a double album on which all 25 tracks are just prime, with a raft of accomplished, seasoned, and thoroughly clever musicians playing off one another, bringing out their collective best no matter what tune they’re reinventing. Andy Statman plays clarinet and mandolin. When he plays clarinet, it’s usually on Klezmer songs, and he offers several of those Jewish melodies on this album, hooking up with guys you wouldn’t associate with that tradition. But this is Klezmer with more than a few hints of bluegrass, rock, blues, jazz and assorted other Americana tossed in, a melting pot of styles that gets blended in ways that never fail to surprise. It should come as no surprise, however, because Statman is joined by people like Béla Fleck, Ricky Skaggs, Lew Soloff and Paul Shaffer, some of the most fecund musicians to be found these days. Take, for instance, the brilliant resurrection of “Since I Met You Baby,” a gem. On “The Lord Will Provide” (a song written by the Anglican clergyman who also wrote “Amazing Grace”), Statman’s clarinet lends support to a fervent Skaggs vocal. Even if you’re not a believer, this song might make the hair on your arms stand up. And, when Statman takes up his mandolin, this Brooklyn cat can show most any Nashville cat a trick or two. Mazel tov.