Artist: John Jorgenson
Label: Cleopatra Records
Release Date: 10/16/2015
Spread across three discs and 40 tracks, John Jorgenson’s limited edition opus, Divertuoso, is neither a compilation nor an anthology, but rather three brand new albums compiled in box set form, representing the remarkably diverse palette that’s given him a reputation as a virtuoso who easily adapts to any setting and situation. Indeed, Jorgenson’s ample list of credits include stints with Elton John, the all-instrumental Hellescasters and Chris Hillman — the latter as part of his Desert Rose Band — and that remarkable dexterity is evident throughout these recordings, featuring his two current outfits, the John Jorgenson Quintet and J2B2, otherwise known as the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band, an all star ensemble featuring Herb Pederson, Jon Randall and Mark Fain.
Not surprisingly then, each of the albums assumes a different identity. His effort with the quintet, succinctly titled Returning, finds him pursuing more romantic notions via gypsy jazz, flamenco and styles that appear to be of eastern European origin. The Crow’s Nest, a bluegrass collection that recalls his efforts with the Desert Rose Band in particular, is rootsy and riveting, and due to today’s fascination with Americana, its emphasis on accessible songs and the inclusion of vocals — mostly missing from the other two albums — it will likely garner the most listening time of the three. Nevertheless, there’s enough caterwauling and pyrotechnics on the third disc, Songs From The Flood, a conceptual piece that that finds him playing the reconditioned guitars he nearly lost to the Nashville food of 2010, offers him opportunity to multitask on bass, organ, keyboards, bassoon and percussion as well. The relentless riffing of “’61 SGLP,” and the fusion-esque tones of “Sunburst Tele 1” and “Paisley Tele 1” find Jorgenson blending a mix of both frenzy and finesse.
Given this wealth of riches, Divertuoso will find its greatest audience with guitar aficionados in particular. There is, after all, a lot to absorb. Yet, thanks to the remarkable range and richness of these individual settings, any indulgence is well worth while the effort.