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Bill Evans: Dragonfly

Dragonfly is the third recording saxophonist Bill Evans has made with his Soulgrass band, but aside from the continuing presence of Ryan Cavanaugh on banjo, there’s little residual connection to the concept as laid out on 2005’s Soulgrass and 2008’s The Other Side of Something. Those albums were determined efforts to fuse bluegrass’ melodic and rhythmic elements with jazz and various strains of Americana; only traces of that hybrid (notably the group-sung, banjo-dominated “Nothin’ to Believe In”) are in evidence here.

Instead, Dragonfly drifts further into jam-band and classic-rock territory, the tunes seasoned with muscular guitar (Steve Lukather solos on two tracks), classic soul licks (John Medeski provides organ on one) and healthy helpings of funk. The title “Dirt County Breakdown” might suggest the late Earl Scruggs, but that cut is more Flecktones-meet-Average White Band, while “I Don’t Know About Love” could have been an outtake by early country-rockers Poco. The tracks fronted by vocalist Josh Dion, among them opener “Madman” and “Kings and Queens,” would fit comfortably onto any ’80s FM rock station’s playlist.

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