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Noisy Neighbors

Eden MacAdam-Somer, ‘My First Love Story’

Eden MacAdam-Somer

My First Love Story

Although Appalachian folk provides a through-line for this album, it would be selling the Texas-born violinist, violist, singer, musical polymath, and New England Conservatory prof Eden MacAdam-Somer short to label her work “new bluegrass,” so broad is her reach. On this collection of 17 pieces for solo strings and voice, recorded live at NEC’s Jordan Hall (no audible audience, except for one cough), she goes deep as well as wide. She drills straight through Duke Ellington’s “Jump for Joy” to its roots in spirituals, even as she tosses off jazzy runs and stamps out a rhythm with her feet. The ancient ballad “Barbara Allen” gets a raw-toned low-register fiddle groove, linking English and West African traditions. A cycle of poems by the 13th-century Sufi mystic poet Rumi traverses free improv, Baroque figurations, and ecstatic vocal ululations. Ralph Vaughan Williams’s cycle “Along the Field” (on texts by A.E. Housman) is also rich with cross-references to Appalachia: eerie and unspeakably sad. MacAdam-Somer’s instrumental and vocal control (she sings in a bright, clear soprano) never fail to astonish. Collectively, these miniatures are epic in musical and emotional range. (Out now.)


Jon Garelick

ESSENTIAL “Jump for Joy”

Eden MacAdam-Somer plays Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory, on June 28 at 7 p.m. Free. 617-585-1122,

Jon Garelick can be reached Follow him on Twitter @jgarelick.