WHAT IF, the debut studio album from The Jerry Douglas Band is out today (8/18) via Rounder Records, and is already riding high on a wave of praise. "Even after 14 Grammys, Jerry Douglas is still exploring unlikely musical pairings, as evidenced by the soul-and bluegrass-melding rendition of 'Hey Joe...' notes Rolling Stone, while American Songwriter says: "... What If is a new beginning...it's a freewheeling, musically sprawling set, perhaps more jazz and rock oriented than most would expect." And No Depression is impressed by how ""The new project merges jazz with bluegrass, country, blues, swing, rock, and soul on eleven tracks filled with bold arrangements and unexpected elements."
On WHAT IF, the 14-time Grammy Award-winning and three-time Country Music Association Musician of the Year, JERRY DOUGLAS and company decisively merge jazz inclinations with the bluegrass, country, blues, swing, rock, and soul that DOUGLAS spent his life absorbing and performing, forging a sound that flies beyond the boundaries of anything he, or anyone else, has done before. The 11-track WHAT IF is now available via Amazon here and iTunes here.
THE JERRY DOUGLAS BAND give "Hey Joe" a genre-bending arrangement, with the song's video premiered by Rolling Stone.The song--in addition to a funky, soul-drenched arrangement of "2:19," the Tom Waits' gem--was performed recently alongside bassist Daniel Kimbro during a live session with Paste Magazine which can be viewed here. Other WHAT IF standouts, such as the album's title track and "Battle Stick," were performed on the streets of New York City for "City Winery Cellar Sessions" which can been seen here.
Though Douglas has previously recorded several of the songs on WHAT IF, he turns them inside out here in bold new arrangements filled with unexpected elements. For example, in 1992 he covered "Hey Joe," the Billy Roberts folk tune that became one of Jimi Hendrix's most beloved blues-rockers, as an uptempo bluegrass song. Here, it's recontextualized again with drums and fiddle--and horns instead of mandolin. He also radically reconfigures the album opener "Cavebop," originally recorded in 2002. This time, it contains the horns he always wanted it to have. "The first time I recorded it, we just played it as fast as we possibly could," says DOUGLAS. "This time, we made it a bit more sophisticated, with more of an arrangement. A lot of times, when you record songs, you don't really know 'em yet. I got another shot at this one."
As soon as he graduated from high school, DOUGLAS headed to Washington, D.C., to join Charlie Waller, Ricky Skaggs, and Doyle Lawson in the Country Gentlemen. He's since performed in so many incarnations; at one point, he counted membership in eight bands--simultaneously. His recent history includes his band the Earls of Leicester--his version of the Flatt and Scruggs band--with Shawn Camp, Charlie Cushman, Jeff White, Johnny Warren, and Barry Bales; their self-titled 2014 debut earned Douglas his 14th Grammy. He'd already picked up eight with Alison Krauss & Union Station, with whom he's closing out his second decade, and shared the Album of the Year win for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the film soundtrack that helped replant traditional roots music in the modern American psyche.