Join Rex for a 20th anniversary rerelease of his 2000 magnum opus 24 Creations For Solo Banjo. Originally released as a CD and mp3 files sold LEGALLY for $0.99 each on www.efolkmusic.com, the 72 minutes of solo banjo has been out of print after the original 2000 copies were exhausted 10 years ago.
a review from 2002:
Rex McGee has banjo chops coming out his ears, as is ably demonstrated on this collection of 24 original compositions. The individual pieces average around the two- to three-minute mark and are titled only by their key signatures, which hardly makes for instant recognition beyond the ranks of the cognoscenti (“Hey, Rex, give us a little of that good ol’ ‘E flat minor!'”). What McGee can do with a banjo is extraordinary, and I’d recommend this CD not only for pure banjo fans and players interested from a technical angle, but for all those who love acoustic music. Admittedly, the most casual fans of bluegrass and banjo might not find the compositions all that interesting in and of themselves, but more dedicated fans will recognize both the composing and playing skills of this exciting musician.
While all 24 tracks are of interest, a few really stand out. Whatever starts out track 11 doesn’t sound like a banjo at all. It sounds bowed, and shows the variety of sounds that McGee is able to coax from his instrument. Track 14 shows some real flashes of compositional mettle, and there’s some welcome dissonance in track 17, which could be subtitled “Banjo Nightmare” — I loved it. Track 21 is alive with contrasting dynamics and effects, from light plucking to a heavy rhythmic chop.
This is one of those albums that grew on me the more I heard it. Anyone playing a solo instrument for an entire CD is taking a risk of boring the listener, but fortunately McGee’s talent is as big as his figurative cojones in undertaking such a project. His playing is consummately skillful, and he keeps strong rhythms going throughout. His touch can be both tender and powerful, often at the same time. The tunes run the extremes between rock and baroque, and the moods vary from inward-looking to raucous. If you’ve heard and enjoyed Bela Fleck and Tony Trishcka’s solo recordings, or if you’ve got a taste for the more experimental and adventurous in acoustic music, check this one out.
[ by Chet Williamson ]
Rambles: 16 March 2002
REVIEWS“I loved your CD. . .the writing is excellent. . .so much interesting stuff. . .I was knocked out and happy to hear a different approach to the banjo, good going.” –Bela Fleck
“. . . this belongs in the genius music category…”-Chris Frank
“these solo banjo pieces are, simply, astonishing. . .quite possibly an important album.” Winston Salem Journal
“I will never, ever make another banjo joke after listening to this beutiful album. . .more than a mere exercise, it is more like a cycle of poems or prayers.” about.com folk music reviewer
“. . .introducing some unheard of and previously unimagined sounds and textures on the old 5-string.” -Fred Boyce, the Prism
“. . . Presumptuous. 24 tracks, one in each major and minor key, named after the key, such as “Cm.” Preposterous. Who wants to listen to some banjo wizard play chops for an hour?
Profound. Rex McGee has produced the most creative and personal release that I have heard since John Coltrane’s “Love Supreme.” It is alive with joy, adventure, searching sadness, and just plain fun. Like pictures in a stranger’s photo album, these tracks ripple on the surface of a deep well of memories and dreams.
I expected “24 Creations for Solo Banjo” to be a brilliant display of technical skill, and it is. What I didn’t expect was to be moved. I was, and continue to be. Congratulations, Rex.” —Jonathan Byrd, award winning songwriter
Rex has been performing onstage from the age of 4 when he started playing fiddle with his grandfather and father at the Pollirosa restaurant every weekend.
Rex has played a number of the most prestigious performing arts centers and festival stages in the country including Telluride and Merlefest, and festivals in Canada and Ireland.
From as simple as a solo set of original banjo and fiddle music to duo, trio and larger ensembles, Rex is able to present his unique music in a format suitable to a range of venue preferences.
Additional Rex has years of recording studio experience, notably being a key player on a grammy nominated project, Sessions at McBane Mill
Rex began composing instrumental banjo music as a teenager and continues this lifelong passion today.
His work came to public attention with an award winning release of all original music in 2000, 24 Creations For Solo Banjo.
He composed and produced the CD released as Kripplekrunk in 2013, a live studio performance of mostly original work with a bluegrass styled ensemble.
His original music has been used for film, TV and radio where he has worked closely with video producers accommodating custom requests.