This is a collection of music that was composed around rhythm rather than the melody, allowing the tonal and emotional center of the music to be established by the percussion and rhythm. Once the rhythms were complete, I brought in the other musicians who helped to reveal the natural form of each piece. The musicians who took part in this project all have a deep respect for rhythm and the interplay of the melodic instruments with the percussion. Many times I abandoned my initial ideas as new elements - beats and instruments - were added. I didn't want the music to be forced into any pre-conceived images I might have had and confining it to one reference point. That is why I decided to bypass conventional titles for any of the pieces. I want the listener to start in a neutral space of his or her own experience."Greg Ellis
AMERICAN EPIC, a film series produced by Allison McGourty, Duke Erikson and Director Bernard MacMahon, explores the pivotal recording journeys at the height of the Roaring Twenties, when music scouts armed with cutting-edge recording technology captured the breadth of American music and discovered the artists that would shape our world. The recordings they made of all the ethnic groups of America democratized the nation and gave a voice to everyone. Country singers in the Appalachians, Blues guitarists in the Mississippi Delta, Gospel preachers across the south, Cajun fiddlers in Louisiana, Tejano groups from the Texas Mexico border, Native American drummers in Arizona, and Hawaiian musicians were all recorded. It was the first time America heard itself.
Jack White and Third Man Records have detailed their soundtracks for American Epic, a documentary co-produced by the rocker that focuses on music of the 1920s, the "Big Bang" of popular music. Four days before American Epic premieres on PBS on May 16th, a pair of soundtracks for the film, American Epic: The Soundtrack and American Epic: The Collection will be released physically and digitally on May 12th. The Soundtrack boasts a 15-song anthology from the documentary, featuring "restored" songs from Memphis Jug Band, The Carter Family, Charley Patton and more. The Collection packs 100 songs from the era onto a five-disc set, with each track "restored to unprecedented levels of sonic fidelity."