Jayme Stone last appeared on the world music radar with his impressive meeting of banjo with the kora on the Africa to Appalachia album. On this intriguing, stylistically wide-ranging follow-up, the Canadian has stretched his influences right across Europe and out to Brazil, taking in reels, polkas, bluegrass, classical and even a re-interpretation of Riccardo Tesi’s southern Italian accordion music.
European folk music is the hub of Room of Wonders, which is inspired by Stone’s reaction to hearing a Bach French Suite and the folk influences inherent therein (ironically, the Bach piece covered here is arguably the one truly weak moment). Fiddler Casey Driessen effectively takes top billing as he saws, plucks and chops his way energetically through the various genres while Stone’s chirpy banjo fills provide a common path back to the duo’s North American roots.
It all comes together best on the constant key-shifts of the exhilarating Bulgarian mountain dance Planinsko Horo, the Norwegian polka Andrea Berget where a strutting Stone tip-toes around delightful conversational interplay between Driessen and guest Jaron Freeman-Fox; and the traditional break-neck bluegrass hoe-down Ways of the World.
No doubt none of this ticks any authenticity boxes, and there is an air of almost wilful eclecticism to the approach. By necessity we only get a taste of the genres explored, and at an almost academic remove. But it’s hard to argue with the sublime, telepathic musicianship on this entertaining set.www.jaymestone.com