Not many bands go from a banjo solo to a tenor sax solo on their opening bluegrass number and then from a slide guitar solo to a fiddle solo on the next, a Chicago blues number. Even fewer bands have the versatility and talent to do it as well as the David Bromberg Band did it at the Bayou last night.
Bromberg brought seven friends from different groups to make up his first band larger than a quartet in three years. One moment three horns would be playing Dixieland, and the next, three fiddles would be playing an Irish reel.
All eight were solid musicians but three stood out as virtuosos. Bluegrass vet Jeff Wisor's long, full-textured fiddle lines put plenty of feeling into any music. Jazz vet John Firmin did the same with his compact, lyrical phrasing on sax, clarinet and tin whistle. Bromberg, himself an old folkie, was as fleet-fingered as ever on acoustic and electric guitars.
Richard Gilewitz, a Florida acoustic guitarist who recently moved to Maryland, played a solo opening set. He acknowledged his clear debt to Leo Kottke by playing four of the latter's songs. Gilewitz finger-picked with such graceful facility and improvised so intelligently that he is a guitarist to follow here.