Tony Furtado

Better than Fleck? Maybe, maybe not, but Tony Furtado gives his all.

It's impossible to avoid comparing Tony Furtado to Béla Fleck, a fellow explorer in the rarefied realm of ambitious banjo composition. But Furtado gets that notoriously loud, cranky instrument to sing with even more soul.

It makes just as much sense to link Furtado with former Bad Liver Danny Barnes (with whom he shares an affinity for slide guitar), the instrumental sides of Taj Mahal or David Lindley, or the late John Hartford, whom Furtado salutes with "Hartford" from his latest album, American Gypsy. Furtado's discovery of slide guitar pushed him even deeper into blues, jazz, folk and old-time hollows, and he always surfaces with the kind of liquid picking that would make Django Reinhardt proud. With his rhythm section, he travels ever further into the dance/groove/fun realms of acoustic music -- all without ever losing his footing in the loamy stuff that got him started in the first place.

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