Jay Ungar & Molly Mason are extraordinary musicians. If you didn't know it before, you sure did after Ken Burns' The Civil War hit the airwaves. Their performance of Jay's haunting composition Ashokan Farewell - the musical hallmark of the PBS series - earned the couple international acclaim. The soundtrack won a Grammy and Ashokan Farewell - originally inspired by Jay & Molly's annual fiddle and dance camps - was nominated for an Emmy.
Of course Ashokan Farewell is only part of the story.
Since joining forces in the late 1970s, Jay and Molly have become one of the most celebrated duos on the American acoustic music scene. With their comfortable sense of fun and their love of music, they make each concert a musical journey - sometimes spanning two continents and two centuries. Their incomparable warmth and wit - coupled with consummate musicianship - have delighted
Listen to the timeless renditions of hard-driving Appalachian, Cajun and Celtic fiddle tunes, stirring Civil War classics, sassy songs from the golden age of swing and country, stunning waltzes, and deeply moving original compositions. It's immediately apparent why Jay and Molly concerts warm the heart, feed the soul, and appeal to all ages. No wonder they continue to receive widespread critical praise.
They've garnered legions of fans through their appearances on Great Performances, A Prairie Home Companion, their own public radio specials, and work on film soundtracks such as Brother's Keeper, Legends of the Fall, and a host of
Ken Burns documentaries.
And what of the event that inspired their signature tune? Jay and Molly's Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps - in New York's Catskill Mountains - remain a favorite learning vacation destination for music and dance enthusiasts all across the country.
If you love American acoustic music, a Jay Ungar & Molly Mason concert is a must.
Jay was a Bronx kid while Molly grew up in Washington State. Jay was raised on pop music of the 1940s and 50s. Molly had a fondness for traditional fiddle music and '30s and '40s popular songs. Jay hung out in Greenwich Village coffeehouses and roamed North Carolina and Tennessee in search of traditional players while Molly was playing clubs and colleges on the West. Since joining forces-both artistically and romantically (the two would marry in 1991)-they have become one of the most celebrated duos on the American
acoustic music scene.
It started with a chance meeting in the late 1970s. Jay and Molly were each performing at the Towne Crier, a rural New York club. They hit it off musically and played together from time to time until Molly left for Minnesota to work in the house band of a new radio show: Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. Meanwhile, back in New York, Jay put together a band with fellow fiddlers Evan Stover and Matt Glaser and guitarist Russ Barenberg. When Fiddle Fever, as the collaboration was called, needed a bassist, Molly signed on. Their recordings are now available on the CD compilation The Best of Fiddle Fever on Flying Fish Records.
The early '80s also saw the beginning of Jay's Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps, a world-renowned destination for enthusiasts of American music and dance traditions. Several years later, Molly became a full partner in designing and running these programs, which are still flourish today as they pass their thirtieth anniversay.
1984 found Fiddle Fever band members Matt Glaser and Russ Barenberg working with a young Filmmaker named Ken Burns on a documentary called The Brooklyn Bridge. They gave Burns a copy of Fiddle Fever's second LP, Waltz of the Wind, which included Jay's Ashokan Farewell. He was so taken with the evocative and haunting melody, that he used it in his next film, Huey, about Louisiana Governor Huey Long. This lead to Burns inviting Jay and Molly to provide music for many of his future projects. The high point to date was the selection of Ashokan Farewell as the main theme of the landmark PBS documentary The Civil War. This resulted in an Emmy nomination for Jay and a Grammy for the soundtrack album. It has been performed by major orchestras, and has been recorded by artists as diverse as Mark O'Connor, Pinchas Zuckerman, James Galway, Charlie Byrd, Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, The Osborne Brothers and Polka King Jimmy Sturr. Next up in this collaboration is the September PBS broadcast of Burn's The National Parks fearturing multiple performances by the duo. Jay has been featured on other soundtracks including his performance with the London Symphony Orchestra in James Horner's 1994 score for Legends of the Fall.
After signing with Angel Records in 1991, Jay and Molly-in collaboration with baritone Thomas Hampson and pianist David Alpher-released American Dreamer, a collection of the songs of Stephen Foster. They followed with Waltzing with You, an elaboration on their score for the film Brother's Keeper (a Sundance Film Festival prizewinner). One of the duo's best-known compositions is the title track of The Lovers' Waltz, an album of romantic fiddle music from the Appalachian, Scandinavian, Celtic, Klezmer, and Swing fiddle traditions. Harvest Home, Jay and Molly's 1999 release on Angel Records, features a 20-minute orchestral work, The Harvest Home Suite, in which the Nashville Chamber Orchestra joins them.
In 2002, Jay and Molly produced, arranged and performed A Song of Home, a collaborative recording for RCA Red Seal, with flutist Sir James Galway. In 2003 they released Relax Your Mind on Angel Records. The release featured their band Swingology, and took a slightly different direction: American dance music with a focus on country blues and swing.
On radio and television, Jay and Molly have appeared on CBS Good Morning, The Rosie O'Donnel Show, All Things Considered, A Prairie Home Companion, and the BBC's Transatlantic Sessions. They continue to broadcast their own live-performance radio show, Dancing on the Air, and they have no shortage of future projects.
The Pleasures Of Winter is music for Winter and the Holiday Season featuring Jay & Molly's live performances from their annual Public Radio program with a variety of great musicians making guest appearances in the house band including: Harry Aceto, David Bromberg, Peter Davis, Peter Ecklund, Laurel Mass, Brian Melick, Michael Merenda, Ruth Ungar Merenda, Kate Pierson, Steve Rust, Butch Thompson, Tony Trischka and Sam Zucchini.
14 New ON this week Total 132
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Crossover Media Projects with: Jay Ungar & Molly Mason