Andy Leftwich's “R-26” delivers a swinging change of pace

Article Contributed by Mountain Home … | Published on Saturday, May 25, 2024

With Andy Leftwich’s last single, “Behind the 8 Ball,” still enjoying a level of airplay rarely given to an instrumental bluegrass recording, the acclaimed fiddler is back with a new one to remind listeners that his mastery extends into other genres, too. And where “Behind the 8 Ball” reaffirmed the Mountain Home Music Company recording artist’s stature as a writer of originals, the new tune, "R-26," is an homage to the greats who wrote and recorded it more than 75 years ago.

“I’ve always loved the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli,” confesses Leftwich. “This fun tune was introduced to me by my wife’s cousin, Luke. It’s one that you don’t hear very often, but has a simple and catchy melody that is extremely fun to improvise and solo over. Django and Stephane have inspired so many great musicians and have had a huge impact on bluegrass music. I first heard about Stephane through David Grisman and their record Live. I instantly fell in love with that style of music and dove head first into their catalog. The art of improvisation is something that makes Bluegrass and Swing music so unique and I was thrilled to record this one with Cody Kilby on guitar and Byron House on upright bass. I hope it brings a smile to your face as it does for me each time we play it!”

Indeed, Leftwich’s “R-26” is an exhilarating romp that reclaims a decades-old tradition of country session musicians relaxing in the after-hours freedom afforded by the improvisational orientation of swing. Here, the long familiarity these musicians have with one another can be heard not only in the easy exchange of insouciant solos that gives each — bassist House included — plenty of time to shine but in casually virtuosic unison passages, too. From start to finish, it’s a joyfully breathtaking token of a musicianship that makes Andy Leftwich one of acoustic music’s most sought-after players.

Listen to "R-26" HERE.

About Andy Leftwich
Four-time GRAMMY®-winning instrumentalist Andy Leftwich began playing the fiddle at the age of six, entering his first contest at seven and winning the National Championship for Beginners at the age of twelve. By the time he was a teenager, he had appeared on the Grand Ole Opry  and “Music City Tonight” with Crook and Chase, and had established a reputation as a winning contest fiddler throughout the Southeast. At 15, he capped off his contest career by winning Winfield, Kansas’s Walnut Valley Old Time Fiddle Championship, one of the most prestigious contests in the country. At the same time, with mandolin and guitar added to his arsenal, Andy began playing professionally, and before he finished his teens, he had joined Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder in 2001. wIn addition to 2005’s solo album, Ride, Andy has recorded two critically acclaimed albums as a member of Three Ring Circle (with dobro player Rob Ickes and bassist Dave Pomeroy), and built an impressive list of studio credits as one of Nashville’s top session players.