Tuesday, July 21, 2015

CD Review: Gao Hong and Friends' 'Pipa Potluck'

Gao Hong and Friends
Pipa Potluck

Pipa, a Chinese plucked lute, is the central component of the new album, Pipa Potluck, by Gao Hong and several guest musicians. This is where Asian folk meets American roots, bluegrass, and classical music. The instrumental album begins with a rousing bluegrass number, "Cluck Old Hen," which features the banjo of Alison Brown, the fiddle by Matt Combs, and bass by Garry West. "Friendship" is more of a contemplative Arabic concoction with oud, percussion, and of course, the pipa. The pipa and guitar complement each other quite nicely on the excellent "Golden Season." Likewise, the slack key guitar by George Kahumoku, Jr. and the pipa create another friendly and enjoyable medley on "Mosquito Song." The bluegrass and folk stylings come back on "Sally Johnson." The serene "Lutes Around The World" finishes the album with poignant strings and delightful melodies. Fans of strings, lutes, Chinese folk, neo-classical, new age, bluegrass, Arabic, folk, Americana, and world music in general will love to sample Pipa Potluck. Remember to leave room on your plate for additional listens! ~ Matthew Forss

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