John Bullard is not out to make classical music sound different. He just wants the banjo to enjoy a rightful place in the genre.
John Bullard is not a gimmicky musician. There is nothing bluegrassy about Classical Banjo: The Perfect Southern Art, it is simply what the title states -- classical music with a Gothic bent. Backed by full ensembles featuring piano, strings, and chorus, Bullard gives straight-faced renditions of Baroque compositions bookended by two extended works from the Romantic period. So as Classical Banjo plays along, you may end up forgetting that the lead instrument is, in fact, a banjo. Bullard's style is remarkably fluid when he's playing such delicate passages in works by Handel, Bach, Telemann, and Marcello. Filling in the empty space is a taller order when it comes to "Three Romances for Oboe and Piano" by Schumann and "Lyric Pieces" by Grieg, but he and producer Jayme Stone pull off the arrangements as if the music world were waiting for such a combination. Much like the ukulele resurgence as of late, the banjo continues its ascension to an urbane place thanks to musicians like John Bullard.