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The Banjo is a true world (music) instrument. It is an American invention adapted from an African prototype and modified with European elements. It’s also a young instrument, barely 200 years old. Its basic concept, known all around the world, is that of a long-necked lute with a hide-covered body. Nevertheless, the banjo is unique. It forms part of a family of instruments but has only two proper family members. The tenor (or 4-string) banjo is best known from jazz and more recently from Irish music while we know the 5-string banjo as a defining instrument in American folk and bluegrass. Apart from a series of hybrids–mandolin-banjo, guitar-banjo, ukulele-banjo and so on—the banjo’s only real relative is the cümbüs from Turkey. Yet, the banjo is known—and played—all around the world as a solo or rhythm instrument and for its distinctive sound.
The album contains 2 CDs with 41 audio tracks and a 100-page book with a detailed account of the banjo’s history (plus many photos). 9 tracks are unreleased so far; 4 are available for the first time on CD while many others are taken from hard-to-find discs.
CD1 „American Banjo” shows off the instrument as it is heard in The Americas—from the USA to the Caribbean and Brazil (and even including an Argentine tango), featuring among others Béla Fleck, Pete Seeger, Tony Trischka, Alison Brown, Derroll Adams, Earl Scruggs, Robert Crumb, Tony Furtado, Kali, Bill Keith, Gus Cannon, and Dock Boggs.
CD2 „World Banjo” tracks down banjo music from around the world, from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, from Asia to Africa and Europe, with artists such as Gerry O’Connor, Barney McKenna, Daily Planet, Ara Dinkjian, and Janne Viksten.