A Hidden Cello Surprise

I’ve been digitizing my CD collection very gradually. That is, it’s been three-and-a-half years and I’ve barely made it to “W.”

It’s not that the collection is so vast. It’s that the process holds my interest only in short spurts, followed by weeks of not really caring. Also, because of the noise involved with the CD burner, it’s not something I like to do while listening to music or even watching a baseball game.

Another thing that slows me down is that I’ve been lingering over certain CDs, rediscovering them or maybe really hearing them for the first time. Maybe I wasn’t paying much attention the first time around — or, maybe there are musicians or ideas on there that I wasn’t yet attuned to.

That’s what happened as I slipped Rob Wasserman’s Trios into the burner.

wasserman-triosMy collection includes a lot of rock music that I’ve become disinterested in, and this CD, while quite innovative as far as the classic rock crowd is concerned, is a good example. A critics’ favorite back in the ’90s, Trios was a project where Wasserman, a well known studio bassist, gathered unorthodox pairs of musicians and recorded a couple of original songs with each group. “White Wheeled Limousine,” with Bruce Hornsby and Branford Marsalis, was the song KFOG radio loved to play.

This is not the kind of CD I’ve been lingering over. I rip ’em for the same of completeness, then stick them back on the shelf.

Except in this case, as in so many other cases, the wrong metadata came up as I loaded the CD. I was going to have to enter each track manually. So I sighed and got to it, dutifully adding the guest artist’s names in parenthesis after each track title. (That’s how I prefer to catalogue these kinds of CDs. They are not “various artist” CDs. No, they are not.)

Well, here we go. Brian Wilson and Carnie Wilson. Check.

Elvis Costello and … Marc Ribot! Hey, that’s cool. Check.

Hornsby and Marsalis, check.

Edie Brickell and Jerry Garcia — ooo, I’d forgotten about those songs. They were cute. Check.

Matt Haimovitz and Joan Jeanrenaud …… wait, WHAT?!

Yes. Two of the tracks deep on “side two,” tracks I’d ignored back in the day, are instrumental trios with two cellists famous for championing new classical music. I really like both of these artists. I had Haimovitz and Jeanrenaud in my collection all those years ago, and I never knew it!

The songs are good, if not life-changing. “Gypsy 1” has Wasserman sticking to a bass pulse while the two cellos solo around a folky dance melody — I’m hearing more Irish than Gypsy in there. It’s reeling and circling and loads of fun, with both cellists adding lots of little frills and glissandos to make it even more peppy.

“Gypsy 2” is more serious, with a main theme that’s more Eastern European to my ears — more gypsy-like. The track is rewarding but lacks the ear-grabbing, A-side quality of “Gypsy 1.” You do get to hear Wasserman play a bowed solo toward the end, though.

They made for a fun listen.

But now, Trios is back on the shelf, and I’m moving on. If you’ll excuse me, I have to deal with a Widespread Panic CD that I never really did get into.