Jayme Stone: Room of Wonders
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Jayme Stone: Room of Wonders

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band World Folk


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This band has not uploaded any videos




"There’s something utterly enchanting about this collaboration. The whole thing just seems completely at ease with itself; a real joy to listen to." - SONGLINES


"Stone combines a jazz musician's sense of timing and sureness of touch with a pop musician's brevity and directness." - THE GUARDIAN


"A deftly arranged collaboration of seemingly effortless ease. A confidently delivered, finely judged album with no boundary-crossing joins showing." - fROOTS


"That rare example of a musical exploration going perfectly, a cultural summit that sounds vibrant and seamless for all the right reasons." - EXCLAIM!


"Stone's scope is far-reaching, connecting seemingly disparate cultures with a passion for music that runs through bluegrass, jazz and "the grit of roots music" to West Africa." - BOSTON GLOBE


"It's music that's difficult to describe, but easy to love." - NOW MAGAZINE


Room of Wonders (2011)

• Juno Award nomination for Instrumental Album of the Year
• 24 city North American to celebrate the release
• Nominated for Touring Artist of the Year Award from CAPACOA

Africa to Appalachia (with Mansa Sissoko) (2009)

• Juno Award winner for World Music Album of the Year
• Canadian Folk Music Award winner for World Music Artist of the Year
• Reached #1 on the Campus Radio Charts in Canada, #2 on the CD Baby top sellers chart and #3 on the iTunes store world music chart
• Tours in Canada, the US and the UK including Celtic Connections Festival, Chicago World Music Festival, Lotus Festival, Calgary Folk Festival and Montreal Jazz Festival
• Featured on Charlie Gillett's "Sounds of the World" compilation
• "Top of the World" feature in Songlines magazine
• Featured on NPR "All Things Considered" and "Mountain Stage"

The Utmost (2008)

• Juno Award winner for Instrumental Album of the Year



Bach’s Lilt, Mystery Melodies, and the Wonders of the World:
Banjo Instigator Jayme Stone Whirls and Waltzes on Room of Wonders

As masterful banjo player and musical instigator Jayme Stone was fixing dinner one night, he heard Bach dance. “I was listening to Bach’s French Suites while cooking. The performance had such a lilt to it that I literally wanted to dance,” Stone recalls. “It was an epiphany moment. Bach used European folk dance forms to inform his own music. I realized I could explore folk dances in my own way, but with a worldwide scope.”

With dance as his guide, Stone launched a virtual journey that ended in a new album, Room of Wonders. (www.jaymestone.com; March 15, 2011) Stone turned mysterious melodies into rocking tunes and crafted lush, edgy originals, with some of North America’s best acoustic musicians for companions.

Stone thrives on unexpected inspiration: Japanese poetry, Brazilian literature, instruments he found while traveling in remote Malian villages. He finds it with influences as diverse as Anouar Brahem, Bill Frisell, and Toumani Diabaté. His Juno Award-winning albums, most notably Africa to Appalachia, both defy and honor the banjo’s long role in the world’s music, turning historical connections into compelling music.

Folk dance as a form and inspiration united three diverse currents in Stone’s musical life: the acoustic music scene he loves, a fascination with Nordic music, and a sideline project interpreting Bach on the banjo. “I had three records that I wanted to make,” Stone explains, “and dance was an umbrella that covered all grounds.”

He immersed himself in Nordic culture, watching films, reading novels, and savoring encounters on tour with visionary roots groups like Väsen, whose nyckelharpa whiz, Olov Johansson, contributed to “Troll Kingdom Polska.” Meanwhile, Stone continued to study Bach in his practice room when he had the chance (and he performs the “Allemande” from French Suite No. 6 on the album).

Yet what really set Stone’s dances into motion were his collaborators, acoustic musicians from divergent backgrounds that Stone loved urging in new, unexplored directions: “When I look for musicians to collaborate with, I am looking for people with a certain adventurous sensibility, who have pioneered new ways of playing. I love bringing them into totally different territory.”

Casey Driessen brought lithe, percussive five-string fiddle playing, with an extra low string that expands the violin range, and a sixth sense for music from around the world, thanks in part to trips to China and Tibet with Abigail Washburn’s Sparrow Quartet. “Casey is a master of the chop, using the bow percussively,” notes Stone. “Most of the rhythmic elements you hear are Casey. He’s a drummer living in a fiddler’s body.”

Though guitarist Grant Gordy, who plays with the alt-bluegrass/jazz David Grisman Quintet, has a gift for improvisation, Stone shied away from trading fours: “I wanted to find out what would happen to that energy, if you brought together jazz artists but didn’t give them solos.”

What Stone did give Driessen, Gordy, and former Punch Brother bassist Greg Garrison was space to find their own way into the pieces. The musicians spent days at a lake cabin, working through possibilities and variations, rearranging sections, and trying just about anything. “We took ‘Planinsko Horo’ and played it in every key,” recalls Stone with a laugh. “We made notes of what we liked and didn’t, and then voted on our favorites. It was like an experiment in musical democracy.”

Stone finally had a chance to turn to some favorite musical moments—sometimes mere snatches of melody, of uncertain origin—and set them shimmying, sashaying, and reeling. He had only 45 seconds of a Bulgarian ruchenitsa from an old mix tape to go on (though he eventually traced its history, thanks to several Bulgarian music scholars). “Krasavska Ruchenitsa” became far more than a danceable ditty, opening with a spontaneous burst of fiddle, bass, and cymbal hitting wildly at once, and contrasting crisp, passionate banjo with Driessen’s serpentine fiddle.

“Moresca Nuziale” was also a mystery—and, as it turned out, a potential danger. “I learned this melody from a friend, who didn’t know anything about it,” Stone recounts. “Eventually, I found the composer, renowned Italian button accordionist Riccardo Tesi. He explained that it was composed for the marriage of his two close friends. It was structured on the traditional moresche, a Moorish sword-fighting dance from Southern Italy. Evidently, Riccardo forgot that these were dances of struggle and the couple divorced after six months. He made me promise never to play it at a wedding.”

Stone makes tradition sing, whether barn-burning bluegrass style (“Ways of the World”) or stepping nimbly through tunes from County Clare (“The Reels”). Yet he also reveals a keen sense of coloration, texture, and emotion on original pieces, the pensive and s