Tony Trischka Band
I doubt that anybody pushes the limits of banjo picking any more than Tony Trischka. This New Yorker is well-versed in the history of the banjo, from its African origins through its adoption by the Irish immigrants in post-minstrel times that resulted in it becoming a staple of modern-day bluegrass bands. Trischka is no less than a walking encyclopedia of banjo history, and the founder of the avant garde style of banjo playing that Trischka's student, Bela Fleck is known for.
This release covers many of those styles, and uses the banjo in ways that before him were unheard of. Not unlike Miles Davis, Trischka has the ability to digest a song and infuse it with a style that in theory shouldn't work, but it does. This is jazz-fusion in one of its better moments.
Rounder Records, 1 Camp St., Cambridge, MA 02140; http://www.rounder.com