Creaking Tree String Quartet Sundogs

This acclaimed Toronto, ON quartet can lay a strong claim to being Canada's best acoustic instrumental group. Their musical versatility was demonstrated recently when this superb album (their fourth) earned Juno nominations in both the Instrumental Album and Roots and Traditional Album of the Year categories. They switch from jazz (as on the jaunty "Jazz Hands") to bluegrass to classical to folk with almost ridiculous ease. Each member contributes individual original compositions, while violinist John Showman comes up with a fresh arrangement to Ravel's "Sonatine." The mandocello of Andrew Collins and cello banjo of Brian Kobayakawa add to the unique ensemble's sound (guitarist Brad Keller rounds out the line-up), while guest contributors on drums, pedal steel and piano help flesh out some of the tunes. Song titles like "Last Payphone In Parkdale" and "The Drunken Detective" are as imaginative as the sounds within. (Independent)