Early American Roots
(Maggie's Music, 1997)
Fresh. Energetic. Innovative.
Any of these terms might be applied to this collection, and correctly. But there's something more. The music is from my country's roots and it inspires me to close my eyes and let myself be transported back in time, to share the experience of listening with my ancestors. This is some of the very music they played and heard in their homes and at social gatherings.
Most colonial music was brought from elsewhere -- Great Britain, Europe, Africa. Most often, they were country dance tunes, folk songs and improvisations on other forms. And, that's exactly what Hesperus offers here. And, appropriately, on the same kinds of instruments that would have been available to our ancestors: baroque violin and guitar, cittern, recorders and viola da gamba.
The three musicians who are Hesperus are professional classical musicians. Tina Chancey and Scott Reiss are members of the Folger Consort and Mark Cudek plays with the Baltimore Consort. But they don't allow their training and background to interfere with the energy and soul they bring to this traditional early music.
Selections from this recording are on the soundtrack of Tim Burton's Paramount film, Sleepy Hollow, based on Washington Irving's classic haunted tale.
Formed in 1979, Hesperus is heard often on National Public Radio, and that's where I first encountered them. Early American Roots was the first of a series of such recordings by Hesperus on the Maggie's Music label. There's now a sequel, Colonial Music. Hopefully, there will be more.