Andy Statman

For updated tour info visit

"Old Brooklyn" CD Release concert
Le Poisson Rouge
Wednesday January 25, 2012
Tickets $15 adv / $18 door


"Statman and friends drop in on Mother Russia and the Balkans, visit Ivory Joe Hunter, sojourn in Appalachia and Texas, hang out in a Kansas City R&B joint, and crash a '60s Jewish wedding..." NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD (Dec 2011 "Old Brooklyn" CD review)

Andy Statman has an easy way with American music that has served him well since he began exploring the byways of bluegrass and the intricacies of jazz as a teenager. Now a world-renowned musician whose facility on clarinet and mandolin have elevated him to master status, Statman is a far-ranging composer and improviser whose chops are just the beginning of his ability to tie together the many threads of bluegrass, jazz, rock 'n' roll and country--among other genres he explores and recharges on Old Brooklyn. Its sheer range and passion for playing makes Statman's new collection leap over genre walls with verve, soul and wit.

The Andy Statman story begins with his immersion into the world of Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin and Jim and Jesse, as a young man growing up in Queens, N.Y. "I was basically training myself to be able to move down to Nashville and to get a job with Jimmy Martin," Statman says. "Bill Monroe and Bobby Osborne and Jim and Jesse--all these guys were my heroes, and still are." By the time Statman was 17, he was an adept mandolin player, but his restless soul led him into the exploration of the jazz abstractions of Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker.

As Statman says, "I was listening to Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang, and when I heard Albert Ayler, I decided I wanted to play saxophone." You can hear bluegrass turning into jazz--and vice versa--throughout Old Brooklyn. With a core band composed of Statman's long-time trio--bassist Jim Whitney and drummer Larry Eagle--along with guitarist Jon Sholle and fiddle player Byron Berline, the record features stellar musicians on the order of Ricky Skaggs, Béla Fleck and Paul Shaffer, and makes a case for syncretism on a grand scale. Statman duets with old-time fiddler Bruce Molsky on two tracks, while Fleck plays banjo with Statman on the traditional "Shabbos Nigun," which the pair arranged. The duets are an important part of a work that also features amazing ensemble playing.

Statman gained prominence in the '70s as one of the prime movers of the revival of klezmer--his 1979 album with Zev Feldman, Jewish Klezmer Music, remains a vital part of any collection of modern klezmer. For that matter, his jazz mandolin record Flatbush Waltz--recorded at the same time as Jewish Klezmer Music--is an important landmark in the evolution of mandolin music. Released on East Flatbush Blues, Statman's version of Bill Monroe's 1952 "Raw Hide" earned him a 2007 Grammy nomination in the Country Instrumental category. He's also toured and recorded with David Grisman, Vassar Clements and Itzhak Perlman.

His years playing klezmer only deepened his appreciation of the way music intertwines. Much like his experience as a bluegrass prodigy, Statman's klezmer music helped him assimilate a tradition while giving him another tool to create his own hybrid idioms--and this is what Old Brooklyn does so brilliantly.

On the record's opening track, "Old Brooklyn," the band lays into an insistent, train-evoking mix of mandolin and banjo, and leaves space for Statman's amazing Ayler-like clarinet solo. As the track gathers steam, it shifts into a super-charged section that sounds like Captain Beefheart's Magic Band with lap steel guitar, all rolling along in a time signature that takes the tune some distance from bluegrass.

Intensity and harmonic sophistication--plus an ear for texture--characterize this music. Statman recorded a spare, beautiful duet for Old Brooklyn with famed country and bluegrass musician Ricky Skaggs. Statman says he met Skaggs years ago on the bluegrass circuit of the '70s. In recent years they renewed their friendship, sitting in with each other's bands a few times in New York and Nashville. Skaggs had sung "The Lord Will Provide" over the telephone to Statman, who was quite moved by it. Written by the Anglican clergyman John Newton--who was also the author of "Amazing Grace"--"The Lord Will Provide" consists of Statman's clarinet and Skaggs' voice, and nothing else. It's a bravura bit of intimacy in a record that mostly jumps and swings, with Skaggs' vocal a wonder of subtle, understated technique and passion.

Like the rest of Old Brooklyn, the song pays tribute to tradition by making it personal. The combination of Statman's amazing technique and his unerring sense of form--check out the rock 'n roll and blues of "Since I Met You Baby" and the sweet fiddle tune "Sally Ann"--makes for the kind of musical experience that only a man immersed in tradition could imagine and only a forward-thinking man could perform.

Old Brooklyn is bluegrass at a whole new level, jazz at its most exciting, and old-time country music the way it sounds in the hands of musicians unafraid of going out on a limb. It's the work of a major American player and composer, with smarts and soul to spare.