Alison Brown is notable both as a banjo innovator, a kindred spirit to Bela Fleck, and as an independent label owner, having started the Compass Records label, a showcase for numerous contemporary folk and bluegrass artists. Here's a quick look at her work...
Alison Brown "Simple Pleasures" (Vanguard, 1990)
Alison Brown "Twilight Motel" (Vanguard, 1992)
(Produced by Mike Marshall)
Alison Brown "Look Left" (Vanguard, 1994)
Alison Brown "Alison Brown Quartet" (Vanguard, 1996)
Alison Brown "Best Of The Vanguard Years" (Vanguard, 2002)
Alison Brown "Out Of The Blue" (Compass, 1998)
Alison Brown "Fair Weather" (Compass, 2000)
What a surprise! This is one of Brown's most straightforward bluegrass albums, with an all-star cast pitching in, among them Sam Bush, Tim O'Brien, Claire Lynch, and pretty much any member of the Grisman-affiliated "spacegrass" scene that you can think of (other than Grisman, that is...) This also features a swell duet with Nashville country star Vince Gill, one of those pleasant instances in which he, too, dips back into his traditional side. For truegrassers, this will be one of Brown's most rewarding albums.
Alison Brown "Replay" (Compass, 2002)
A loose-limbed live set that revisits some of Brown's old tunes...
Alison Brown "Stolen Moments" (Compass, 2005)
Bluegrass-based easy listening, with dips into lite jazz... It's not my cup of tea, but Ms. Brown's fans, as well as folks who like Bela Fleck, et. al., will probably enjoy this album... Lots of guest performers, ranging from 'grassers such as Sam Bush, Mike Marshall and Sally Van Meter to the Indigo Girls, Mary Chapin Carpenter and various members of the Celtic band, Solas, all linked together through Brown's lissome banjo work and light compositional touch.
Alison Brown Quartet "Evergreen" (Compass, 2008)
(Produced by The Alison Brown Quartet & Joe Craven)
A playful holiday offering from banjo picker Alison Brown, with fleet-footed accompaniment from fiddler Joe Craven and a few of their pals. Brown plucks out a few standards -- "Silver Bells," "Sleigh Ride" -- as well as some quirky choices such as Gene Autry's "Two Santas" and "Christmas Time Is Here," from the TV adaptation of Dr. Seuss's "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," as well as a couple of Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts-related yuletide gems. Some nice, joyful, inventive performances -- perfect to have in the background as you prepare that big, yummy holiday dinner!
Alison Brown "The Company You Keep" (Compass, 2009)
(Produced by Alison Brown & Garry West)
An all-instrumental album featuring banjo whiz (and Compass Records founder) Alison Brown... This disc is much in keeping with her last several albums, a mellow continuation of the jazz-grass tradition started by David Grisman and his generation of acoustic virtuosi. While sticking to a generally soft-pop orientation, Brown also pushes ahead musically, placing an emphasis on musicianship and exploration... Personally I prefer a strong, hummable melody, but each to their own. Along for the flight are pianist John R. Burr, fiddlers Joe Craven and Stuart Duncan, and guitarist John Doyle, of the Celt-acoustic band Solas -- some pretty fancy pickers for a pretty lighthearted acoustic outing.
Hick Music Index