Photo courtesy of Andy Statman
The version of “The Lord Will Provide” on “Old Brooklyn,” Andy Statman’s virtuosic two-CD excursion through all manners of American and Jewish music, struck me as unusual, and not just because the voice and clarinet duet is spine-tinglingly powerful. It’s more because the 18th-century hymn, written by James Newton — a slave trader who became an abolitionist and an Anglican minister — was being performed intensely, almost telepathically, by clarinetist Statman, an Orthodox New York Jew, and singer Ricky Skaggs, a born again evangelical Kentucky Christian.
Statman’s clarinet playing on the hymn is steeped in Old and New World Jewish music, while Skaggs’s singing is steeped in the a cappella gospel quartets that are such an important part of the bluegrass tradition. But, in “The Lord Will Provide,” Statman and Skaggs find a musical and spiritual meeting ground in Newton’s monotheistic sentiments — the hymn’s two overtly Christian verses are omitted — that allows both musicians to express themselves powerfully.