CATHERINE BOWNESS: Village Green
By Bing Turkby
She’s only young but Catherine ‘BB’ Bowness has already won the Uncle Dave Macon banjo contest in Tennessee and is the first banjo player to be accepted to study jazz at the NZ School of Music. She’s a fan of Bela Fleck, so there’s more than just old-time banjo music here, in fact I would tentatively call it a folk-jazz album. Bowness shows how versatile and mellifluous the instrument can be, in the right hands. Guests contribute acoustic guitar and double bass and tenor banjo. Many of the tunes are original, mixed in with traditional Irish and even a Miles Davis number. There’s a tune dedicated to the place she grew up, Koitiata – just down the road from world-famous Turakina, yay! The Three T’s is dedicated to her late banjo teacher Mark Warren, who emphasised timing, tone and taste. Bowness definitely has all three. Her banjo playing is deft, graceful, mellow and intricate, not hectic like The Beverly Hillbillies theme which inspired her to pick up banjo at age 12.