Ron Cody

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Congratulations to Ron on this Epic CD project!

~Bruce Molsky

Personnel, Liner notes & more

Ron Cody has produced a new record for banjo and fiddle offering a wonderful collection of explorations in acoustic string-band music tied together by the common thread of Jonathan Cooper's exceptional violins. Ron's inventive banjo playing and production comes along with an assemblage of many of the northeast's finest string players. The album features fiddling greats Darol Anger, Matt Glaser, Bruce Molsky, Brittany Haas, Alex Hargreaves and many more, while showcasing a supportive lineup of the highest caliber. The album contains an interesting variety of tunes that takes the listener on a musical journey with homage to various American folk music idioms. Ron's banjo playing walks a fine line of peering over the horizon while remaining routed in tradition which makes for an exciting and pleasing musical experience. Check it out!

~Dominick Leslie

  1. Amanda's Reel

    (Kenny Smith)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Bronwyn Keith-Hynes (fiddle)
    • Matt Witler (mandolin)
    • Matthew Arcara (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
  2. The New Five Cents

    (Traditional)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Mike Barnett (fiddle)
    • Roland White (mandolin)
    • Lincoln Meyers (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
  3. Stompin' Time

    (Ron Cody)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Darol Anger (fiddle)
    • Jesse Brock (mandolin)
    • Lincoln Meyers (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
  4. This Can't Be Love

    (Richard Rodgers / Lorenz Hart)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Alex Hargeaves (fiddle)
    • Dominick Leslie (mandolin)
    • Grant Gordy (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
  5. Backstreet

    (Ron Cody)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Brittany Haas (fiddle)
    • Jesse Brock (mandolin)
    • Lincoln Meyers (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
  6. Tommy Jarrell's Bonaparte's

    (Traditional)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Darol Anger (fiddle)
    • Jesse Brock (mandolin)
    • Lincoln Meyers (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
  7. Golden Eagle Hornpipe

    (Traditional)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Alex Hargreaves (fiddle)
    • Dominick Leslie (mandolin)
    • Grant Gordy (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
  8. Cattle in the Cane

    (Traditional)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Matt Glaser (fiddle)
  9. Crazy Creek

    (Tommy Jackson)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Matt Glaser (fiddle)
    • Joe Walsh (mandolin)
    • Frank Varela (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
  10. Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine

    (Traditional)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Jonathan Cooper (violin)
    • Brittany Haas (violin)
    • Jesse Brock (mandolin)
    • Lincoln Meyers (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
  11. The Cowboy's Life Is A Very Dreary Life / Snake Chapman's Tune

    (Traditional / Owen Chapman)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Bruce Molsky (fiddle)
    • Joe Walsh (mandolin)
    • Matthew Arcara (guitar)
  12. Acorn Stomp / High Level Hornpipe

    (Traditional / James Hill)

    • Ron Cody (banjo)
    • Tashina Clarridge (fiddle)
    • Tristan Clarridge (fiddle and tenor guitar)
    • Lincoln Meyers (guitar)
    • Wendy Cody (bass)
Jonathon Cooper and Ron Cody

Produced by Ron Cody

Featuring:

  • Darol Anger - fiddle
  • Mike Barnett - fiddle
  • Jonathan Cooper - violin
  • Tashina Clarridge - fiddle
  • Tristan Clarridge - fiddle and tenor guitar
  • Matt Glaser - fiddle
  • Brittany Haas - fiddle
  • Alex Hargreaves - fiddle
  • Bronwyn Keith-Hynes - fiddle
  • Bruce Molsky - fiddle
  • Matthew Arcara - guitar
  • Jesse Brock - mandolin
  • Wendy Cody - bass
  • Grant Gordy - guitar
  • Dominick Leslie - mandolin
  • Lincoln Meyers - guitar
  • Frank Varela - guitar
  • Joe Walsh - mandolin
  • Matt Witler - mandolin
  • Roland White - mandolin

Wasn't too many years ago... a banjo and a fiddle made a band. The classic duet has been celebrated just as long as there have been fiddlers and banjoists together. Banjo master Ron Cody has created an album that explores this deep connection; an album full of grace, mystery, humor, and abandon. When I say album, I think of a collection of vignettes, perhaps a book of photos from a particular time and place. And that's exactly what this recording is: a snapshot of a time and place in fiddling today, a group portrait. A tightly woven spread of generations of fiddlers, all representing a musical movement whose growth shows no signs of stopping.

Make no mistake; in spite of all the fiddlers a-fiddling here, this is finally a banjo record, and Ron continues as one of the most accomplished and wide-ranging of contemporary banjoists in the Bill Keith mold, able to leap tall genres in a single bound, inhabiting many styles, always with the Cody touch. His versatility enables him to speak to and with each fiddler in their own musical language. His offerings range from hurtling headlong Bluegrass, to stony Hartfordian twang, to swing flavors ranging all along the humor spectrum, replete with piquant harmonic twists.

Ron lives and works in Maine, an especially beautiful region in America's Northeast which has fostered a thriving string music community. Maine also has a tradition of excellent instrument builders going back to the 1800s. At present, one of the most popular and accomplished of these is Jonathan Cooper, a member of that influential group of luthiers who changed the violin-making world over the course of a few summers at Oberlin College, sharing ideas, lore, and secrets of the trade. Among a group of craftspeople known for introverts and eccentrics, Jon might be the most extroverted violin maker ever. A real polymath, he has done many things besides build violins, and his personal and professional connections span the globe. He freely shares his knowledge and skills and has set many talented builders on their path. His ebullient presence at many of the most important fiddle camps and events of the last 3 decades has inspired him to build instruments which have become the voices of some of the best fiddlers fiddling today.

And those legendary camps and fiddle events, such as Mark O'Connor's annual events in San Diego and Tennessee, Alasdair Fraser's camps in California, the Rockygrass and Shasta academies, and Jay Unger's Ashokan, have empowered a brilliant generation of musicians who create music which feels like home, but lives everywhere. It's the American-Celtic-Blues-and-Bluegrassy-Jazz style of music that most American musicians fall into when they are playing freely together. In this near-utopian musical republic, the inhabitants share a familial bond powered by music, respecting all styles of music without taking the differences too seriously.

Ron has tapped into this connected group of extremely individual fiddlers who share a questing sound and a love of groove, precision, mystery and nuance. This is expressed beautifully in the very concrete metaphor of all the fiddlers playing fine instruments created by Jonathan Cooper, around whom most of them have spent some of the most intense weeks of their lives. It's a continent-wide family bonded by music, bonds constantly renewed in a process which brings minds, hearts, and feet together, moment by moment.

Folks with this questing musical spirit and desire for beauty are everywhere. Though Ron Cody didn't grow up in this fiddle-camp environment, he worked and studied with people that helped spark this music: Bill Keith, Tony Trischka, and others. He is a healer and crucial member of this community and has helped many musicians in many ways. His intellect, discipline and organizational abilities drive him to create coherent themes for his musical projects. the natural affinity of Banjo and Fiddle drove this project just as much the affinity of all these human beings for each other.

The band that supports this conversation is equally excellent and stands out when needed: On guitars: Lincoln Meyers, a tremendously powerful guitarist in the bluegrass mold. Ron's old friend Frank Varela steps strongly in on jazz guitar. The indescribable Grant Gordy states the non-obvious, and Matt Arcara paints unexpected cascades. On mandolin there are five: the legendary Roland White (his family has been in Maine for generations), three brilliant players in their prime; Jesse Brock, Joe K. Walsh and Dominick Leslie, along with the young and upcoming Matt Witler. Wendy Cody continues to further realize her penetrating musicianship in the role of bassist, supporting the proceedings with taste and skill. Perfectly chosen, these artists adjust rapidly to the parade of fiddle soloists and bring out subtle facets of each tune, rewarding repeated listening.

The music on this recording tells an eloquent and beautiful story which cannot be described in words. To listen to the whole CD is to make a journey which many will want to take again and again. May you who had the luck to discover this recording have many chances to re-live the story told here.

Darol Anger

More

Ron Cody's new CD, "Sprung a Spring" is a wonderful excursion into the versatility of banjo's acoustical possibilities. Ron's feeling and tone is string artistry at its finest and his treatment of jazz classics is supported by an array of exceptional musicians. Anyone interested in the inventive potential of five string banjo should definitely check it out.

~Pat Cloud, jazz banjoist

Produced by Ron Cody

Featuring:

  • Darol Anger - violin
  • Mike Block - cello
  • Ron Cody - 5 string banjo
  • Wendy Cody - upright bass
  • Gary Gemmiti - drums
  • Heather Masse - vocals (4, 10)
  • Frank Varela - guitar
  • Jed Wilson - piano (3, 4)

There is a famous jazz fusion band called Return to Forever, but the CD you're holding in your hand might easily be called Return to Sanity. So much music nowadays has been corrupted by the worst excesses of the modern world: rampant commercialization, soulless mechanistic production, and toxic content. But the music that banjo player Ron Cody and friends have given us signals a return to core musical and human values. It's deeply sane, and deeply human. This album falls squarely in the category of folk-jazz. That is, the repertoire and approach to improvisation is clearly jazz, in the sense that the musicians improvise on songs from the Great American Songbook, and other tunes with similar forms and rich harmonies. It's folk music in the sense that it is regional music, made among friends. It just so happens that the region Ron Cody lives in (Portland, Maine) has become a real epicenter for the beautiful and thriving string band tradition. What you have here is a mixed group of musicians, among them some of the finest professional players and singers in America, but also other fine musicians who make their livings doing other things. What brings this wide range of fine people together is a love of music, a love of community, and the desire to play beautiful tunes with loving care. In a sense, this hearkens back to the beginning of the twentieth century, in which a common form of entertainment was to sit around the family piano with the latest sheet music, singing and playing songs of the day. The folks on this recording either make Portland Maine their home, or have a strong connection to that area.

Along with others in this stellar group is vocalist Heather Masse, who many people have heard through her repeated appearances on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. Playing fiddle throughout is the kindly and wise titan of the violin, Darol Anger. And located centrally we have the great banjo playing of Ron Cody... listen to the beautiful chord melody statement on A Sleepin' Bee... shades of George Van Epps! No other banjo player is playing with such nice voice-leading! Check out Paper Moon - this is a whole album of sweetly swinging stuff.

The choice of repertoire overall is clever and cunning. Ron is a devotee of great tunes... have you ever heard a banjo play The Look of Love? Tangerine, Robbins Nest, and the other chestnuts from the Swing Era represented here establish a connection between jazz and folk music through the song. The jazz I love most remains song based, and the music here retains is emotional core through its devotion to the song. We can hope that this beautiful CD signals a return to sanity for musicians everywhere. We can all take a cue from a group of friends sitting together in Portland Maine, playing and swinging on a group of lovely melodies. I personally can think of no better way to while away the hours while here on planet Earth.

~Matt Glaser, Artistic Director
American Roots Music Program
Berklee College of Music

I first met Ron Cody when he invited me to participate in a banjo workshop in Portland, Maine along with the legendary Bill Keith. His appetite for musical knowledge is inspiring and I quickly identified with him as a like-minded banjo player. We share a similar pursuit as banjoists trying to assimilate broad concepts and a diversity of styles. I was impressed with Ron's quest to play 30's and 40's Jazz on 5-String Banjo, and wasn't the least bit surprised that his acquisition of a holy-grail 1930's Gibson Mastertone banjo only intensified this pursuit and helped bring this recording into focus. It's a rare opportunity to hear the classic 30's-40's repertoire with the 5-string banjo as a the featured instrument. Ron plays tonefully, with an elegant touch that is well-supported by the wonderful cast of musicians generously featured throughout the record. Heather Masse's vocals provide beautiful contrast to the instrumental pieces, while Ron's original compositions provide nice balance to the classic Jazz repertoire and keep the album from becoming a period piece. In music, it's crucial for one's personality to emerge out of the stream of notes, and Ron succeeds wholly on this front. Like Ron, this music is very warm and inviting.

~Noam Pikelny

*Composer for Sometime Ago listed incorrectly on the CD package as Chick Corea.

More

"Nimble, able and intriguing is how I would describe the instruments on this CD. They are obviously played by skilled hands, but it isn't just the expertise here that makes the album interesting...it is the arrangement of the music as well. This is Celtic music at its best...."

~Celtic MP3s Music Magazine (read more)

See clips from our release party.

Listen to The Talking Rake on NPR's The Thistle and Shamrock

Produced by Ron Cody

Featuring:

  • Erica Brown - fiddle
  • Ron Cody - 5 string banjo
  • Wendy Cody - bass (13)
  • Natalie Haas - cello
  • Danielle Langord - harp
  • Lincoln Meyers - guitar (7, 11)
  • Nicole Rabata - flute
  • Steve Roy - bass
  • Matt Shipman - guitar, bouzouki
  • Joe Walsh - mandolin

I have always wanted to play Celtic tunes on the banjo. Since my early years of playing, I tried to play these tunes by listening to a variety of sources. With not a lot of Celtic rules and instructional material for the 5 string banjo about, I stumbled along the way with different techniques, eventually assembling an approach to technique that includes single string, melodic and 3 finger styles. Over the years, listening to great players like Irish 4 string player Gerry O'Connor, and 5 string players, Bill Keith, Bela Fleck and Tony Trischka helped a lot.

My goal was to make a listenable banjo album. While I was focused on banjo sound and technique, my primary emphasis was arranging these tunes with these musicians and making each instrument sound its best with a banjo. The album has cello, fiddle, bouzouki, harp, flute, mandolin, bass, and guitar spread throughout.

The musicians are wonderful and talented players I know as friends. Cellist Natalie Haas added her profound texture and rhythm to the music in this recording. We had a lot of fun and I am so pleased with how great banjo and cello sound together in this style.

I hope you will enjoy listening to this album.

~Ron Cody

Ron Cody has come up with a beautiful new album drizzled in Celtic influences. Bluegrass traces peek through, which makes sense given the strong Scotch/Irish fiddle tradition that informs Bill Monroe's music.

The overall sound is sweet and elegant, with a rich palette of sonoroites led by Ron's facile and heartfelt five string banjo playing. He's joined by a hugely talented and sympathetic cast of musicians whose primarily wood-timbred instruments – cello, mandolin, guitar, bouzouki, bass, and fiddle – take one to a sun-spattered shore near the cliffs of Moher. Here Ron joins Chris Thile's Punch Brothers in the move toward (new) acoustic chamber music, with exquisitely played unison melodies and mood-altering texture shifts.

Ron has been composing wonderful original music for years and his inclusion of several new gems is a welcome addition to the project. Here you'll find exquisitely adroit music that never overshadows the profound Celtic melodies that form the backbone of this album.

~Tony Trischka

More

Fretwater

Produced by Tony Trischka and Fretwater

Featuring:

  • Ron Cody - 1930 Gibson Mastertone RB-3 and Deering Crossfire electric 5-string banjo
  • David Miller - Peavey six string electric bass
  • Frank Varella - Martin Ovation acoustic guitars, Gibson and Laramie electric guitars
  • Keith Mallory - Pearl Master Series drums, Sabian cymbals, Zildjian cymbals, and percussion

With Special Guests:

  • Stuart Duncan - violin (Balance, Muffin, and Ryan's Waltz)
  • Bill Keith - harmony banjo and first solo (Jitterbug Waltz)
  • Tony Trischka - harmony banjo (Muffin)
  • Jeff Wallace - Fender Stratocaster guitar (You and Me)

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