Andy Statman Trio
·· Andy Statman, Clarinet and Mandolin
·· Jim Whitney, Bass
·· Larry Eagle, Drums and Percussion
Andy Statman—a virtuoso mandolinist, clarinetist, and composer—has expanded the boundaries of traditional and improvisational forms in his long career. A major figure in both Jewish music and bluegrass for more than four decades, he was highly influential in the klezmer revival and later broadened his interest in Jewish music to include Chasidic tunes, which he infuses with bluegrass, klezmer, and jazz. In 2012, he received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Born in 1950 into a family of cantors, composers, and both classical and vaudeville musicians, Statman grew up in Queens. He started playing bluegrass when he was 12, and was soon performing with local bands at colleges and clubs, and on Sunday afternoons in Washington Square Park. At 17, after hearing avant-garde jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler, he began to study saxophone. Through his late teenage years, he played sax in free jazz, funk, rock, and Chicago blues bands, while expanding his mandolin playing in similar directions. He became a member of the experimental bluegrass groups Country Cooking and Breakfast Special, and also toured and recorded with David Bromberg’s and Vassar Clements’s bands.
Still seeking to broaden his horizons, Statman began to study and play Greek, Albanian, and Azerbaijani music. In 1975, he sought out legendary klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras and became his protégé. Tarras wrote a number of melodies for him and—wanting Statman to carry on his legacy—bequeathed him four of his clarinets.
As a clarinetist, Statman began to zero in on the sublimely ecstatic centuries-old Chasidic melodies that lie at the heart of klezmer music—melodies that were part and parcel of the religious path he had come to follow. This led to his galvanizing klezmer music with the spiritually oriented avant-garde jazz of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler, and various Middle Eastern and Eastern European styles. In so doing, he created his own musical language.
A Grammy nominee, Statman has appeared on more than 100 recordings, including 20 under his own name. His groundbreaking albums include Jewish Klezmer Music with Zev Feldman and Marty Confurius, which became a touchstone for the 1970s klezmer revival; Flatbush Waltz, a mandolin masterpiece of post-bebop jazz improvisations and ethnically inspired original compositions; and Between Heaven and Earth, which featured Chasidic melodies with a Coltrane-oriented approach and was listed as one of the top releases of 1997 in The New York Times. His newly released album Monroe Bus features original works that reflect his wide range of musical influences.
He has recorded and toured with Itzhak Perlman, Ricky Skaggs, Béla Fleck, David Grisman, Stéphane Grappelli, Buell Neidlinger, the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Dr. John, Kenny Werner, and Flaco Jiménez, among others.
Jim Whitney, originally from the mountains of northern New Hampshire and currently a resident of Brooklyn, actively performs and does session work as an acoustic and electric bassist, and composes new music. He can be heard playing jazz, bluegrass, rock, country, klezmer, funk, American roots, Brazilian, or any combination thereof. He recently completed his debut recording, Dodecahedron, which features 12 of his original compositions. He is a longtime member of the Andy Statman Trio and has performed and/or recorded with many musical luminaries, including Bill Frisell, Tony Trischka, Anthony Braxton, David Grisman, Ray Anderson, Jamey Haddad, Richard Greene, John Scofield, and Ricky Skaggs. He has appeared with acting stars Meryl Streep, John Goodman, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Steve Buscemi as a member of the performance group Parabola, directed by legendary composer Carter Burwell. Whitney’s musical travels have taken him to Europe, Japan, Singapore, Israel, Central America, New Zealand, Canada, and much of the US. He has performed on several feature film soundtracks, including Anomalisa and The Rookie, and was commissioned to compose and record several original works for the Wendy Osserman Dance Company. Younger generations have heard his performances on the award-winning children’s show Blue’s Clues and the popular new children’s show Peg + Cat.
Larry Eagle keeps his musical portfolio diversified. He is a founding member of Bruce Springsteen’s Sessions Band; their album We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions won a Grammy Award for traditional folk music and was followed by their Live in Dublin CD and DVD release. Eagle also played on John Legend’s second album, the Grammy-nominated blues album with Odetta, and 2015 and 2017 Grammy-nominated children’s albums with Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could. He has recorded with artists ranging from country and bluegrass superstar Ricky Skaggs to powerful jazz/soul singer Lizz Wright. He continues to play and record with artists in a variety of genres; he performed on the traditional jazz stage with plectrum banjo artist Cynthia Sayer at the 2017 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (JazzFest), and with western swing artists Western Caravan at the Fuji Rock Festival (Japan) in 2017 and 2018. He recently returned from his second concert and teaching tour in China, and has also performed on The Tonight Show, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Good Morning America, PBS, the BBC, and an ice-breaking Baltic Sea ferry out of Naantali, Finland.