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Kind Of Bluegrass: Lightning-Fast Jazz

On the surface, there might seem to be a world of difference between jazz and bluegrass music. Jazz is predominantly urban and often deals with relatively complex structures, chords and key changes. Bluegrass is predominantly rural and, like blues, often works within fairly predictable structural boundaries. But jazz and bluegrass are more alike than they appear. Both jazz and bluegrass place a high premium on instrumental virtuosity, both feature sophisticated interplay between instruments and both rely heavily on improvisation, often at lightning speed.

In this edition of Take Five, we're going to explore five songs that meld jazz with bluegrass. We'll hear bluegrass players interpret jazz songs, and hear jazz players apply their chops to bluegrass forms. We'll hear from David Grisman and Bela Fleck, the two musicians who receive the most credit for expanding the possibilities of traditional bluegrass instruments (mandolin and banjo, respectively), as well as other great players whose vision and talent defy (or perhaps even dismiss) genre.

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Nick Morrison