Alison Brown: Inspector
Banjo virtuosa, jazzgrass composer, and Compass Records label-founder Alison Brown quite often records with carefully selected special guests from the folk and bluegrass world, including the occasional vocalist; the delightful covers of popsongs which often result - Elvis Costello, Harry Nilsson, and Paul Simon among them - are well worth pursuit, and quite often find their way onto my home blog Cover Lay Down.
But Brown's no lead singer, preferring to speak instead through her instrumental mastery and her ability to construct and compile musicians and song. As such, deeper towards the core of Brown's catalog, we find a stellar, surprisingly diverse collection of original instrumentals that seamlessly blend elements of newgrass, world music, and jazz, like Bela Fleck with less jamband cred and a bit more Contemporary Pop production value.
Inspector is a jazzy, jumpy delight, from her all-instrumental 1994 release Look Left and, later, her highly-recommended 2006 "best of" collection The Vanguard Years, but there's no way to represent her breadth of talent with just a single cut, so definitely check out the rest of her work.