It’s a quiet, warm Saturday afternoon in downtown Louisville, and the lobby of the city’s most iconic display of Southern grandeur, The Seelbach Hotel, is bustling with road-worn and seemingly infrequent visitors stirring about.
One of those visitors is Lexington-native Ben Sollee, one of Kentucky’s up-and-coming “musical” displays of Southern grandeur. A classically trained cellist, Sollee is a one-man orchestra, who owns his instrument and is known for playing it with a combination of passion and grace. He has managed to breed a whole new style of playing his centuries-old instrument, where the end result is a little rock and roll, a little soulful, a little bluegrassy, a little jazzy, very modern, and all Americana. Continue reading →
“Kentucky cellist transforms pop-rock with his jazz, folk, Americana-bluegrass roots”
When reviewing an album there is always a tendency – as a writer – to draw comparison to some other artist’s recording. You want to paint a clear picture in the reader’s mind of what he or she can expect before buying the album. On Sollee’s fourth studio endeavor, that’s a tough task to do. Ben Sollee sounds exactly like…himself, which is to say that Sollee, in an otherwise endlessly diverse indie music-sphere, has truly pioneered his own alt-Americana style of music.
Drawing from his classically trained cellist roots, Sollee blends elements of pop-rock, jazz, R&B, and bluegrass for an harmoniously groove-a-licious, pop-rockish departure from 2011‘s Inclusions. Joining him on the album are My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel on guitar, Turtle Island Quartet’s Jeremy Kittel on fiddle, Alana Rocklin on bass, Jordan Ellis on percussion and vocalist Abigail Washburn.
Most memorable is the heartfelt prowess of “Unfinished” and the candid assertions from “Get Off Your Knees.” The album peaks on “The Pursuit of Happiness,” a vocally arousing, storytelling, rock-n-roll rhythmic monster of a song.
Even though this album is called Half Made Man, Sollee proves yet again that his self-defined and Kentucky-bred musical mystique is wholly made.
You’ve done it. You recorded your masterpiece with love and care, and listened back to it eagerly only to realize that something is missing. Something… stringy. Strings! Ah-ha! This is a fine realization to have, but what does it mean for you, practically speaking? Because unless you have a symphony orchestra in your back pocket, you will need to employ some audio sleight-of-hand to achieve a full string section sound.
IDENTIFY THE DESIRED EFFECT
First, you need to identify the type of string sound you are after. If the strings on “Eleanor Rigby” set your heart thumping, you might want to consider a string quartet (two violins, one viola, one cello, no doubling). The easiest way to get a full quartet sound is to rehearse your quartet, and record them all together in the same room. Continue reading →
Portland Cello Project’s leader, Doug Jenkins, recently spoke with Performer about his group’s mission to blur genre boundaries and introduce new types of music to different audiences. A sight to behold, PCP’s stage show often features up to 12 cellos performing at once, and with a repertoire of nearly 1,000 pieces, there’s no shortage of styles or random pop songs you might hear at one of their concerts.
As the band so perfectly summarizes:
“The Cello Project’s mission is three-fold:
1. To bring the cello to places you wouldn’t normally hear it.
2. To play music on the cello you wouldn’t normally hear played on the instrument. Everything from Beethoven to Kanye West to Pantera.
3. To build bridges across all musical communities by bringing a diverse assortment of musical collaborators on stage.”