"Eager and Anxious
You may recognize the name, Trevor Hyett, as the former editor of this august publication (The British Bluegrass News) or possibly as one of the trio Acoustic Bridge. Perhaps you remember him as a presenter on Granada TV. As far as I know in none of these roles did he ever play the banjo. In live performances, recordings and jams Trevor excels on mandolin, mandola, guitar and even Ukelele. I have seen Trevor in photographs holding a five string and even carrying a banjo case at Sore Fingers, but I’d never actually heard him play the thing.
So when a 7 track CD of banjo music from this polymath arrived in the post you could have knocked me down with a thumb-pick! Right from the first track, Salt Creek, Trevor proves that he can do far more than pose with the 5 string. The session standard version gets an airing first time through up and down the neck but as the banjo steps back to accompany wonderful breaks from Gina le Faux (mandolin and fiddle) and Thomas Coffey (guitar) we hear a distinctly progressive and melodic approach to the instrument. This is confirmed in the final banjo break which perhaps owes something to the late great Bill Keith. This side to Trevor’s playing emerges again in the Bela Fleck original Eager and Anxious which bubbles along very nicely to an excellent finger picked Travis style guitar accompaniment.
As you might expect there are songs here as well as instrumentals – although it should be said that the playing on these is also very accomplished. Hyett borrows Doc Watson’s Deep River Blues, which becomes Big City Blues in his ascorbic version, a swipe at - you guessed it – bankers. He says ‘I don’t mention them by name – because I couldn’t think of a rhyme’ – ahem! Every Bomb You Make (words by Reynolds and Glen) appropriates the Police classic Every Breath … Andy Summer’s guitar riffs adapt surprisingly well to the banjo. The anti war sentiments of the song are echoed poignantly by some sensitive arrangement and playing by the whole band – in particular double bassist, Kevin Barrass. In My Life, the final track is offered, with a slight apology in the liner notes, ‘for personal reasons’. Who doesn’t go a bit misty eyed at this Beatles sing-along classic. Again the banjo playing on this fits perfectly – lovely double-tracked banjo version of the late great George Martin’s harpsichord solo – and rescues the number from being a corny cover.
However the strength of this EP/CD is in the instrumentals – all performed and recorded here with tasteful arrangements and melodic clarity. Ashokan Farewell sounds perfectly natural when wrestled away from the fiddlers and given to banjo and Gordon McCulloch’s chromatic harmonica – Hyett’s purity of tone way up the dusty end of the neck is admirable. My favourite is a Trevor Hyett original, Four Singers (spoonerism for Sore Fingers) a wonderful Baroque romp through descending melodic patterns with the 12 string guitar playing counter melody.
Very tasty listening, beautifully engineered and recorded – tuck it into your iTunes, you won’t regret it.
Chris Aggs (posing as a banjo player)"
Congratulations to Trevor for putting together such a wonderful album!