John Carlini

Game's Afoot!

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Tony Rice, who penned the liner notes for this album of acoustic instrumental music by the John Carlini Quartet, struggles to choose a genre for it, writing, "For lack of a better term, I would categorize the music herein as simply modern string jazz," but then pulling back from that description because of the presence (on most of the tracks) of a five-string banjo played by Pat Cloud, and the inclusion of a drummer. "These instruments are not usually associated with string jazz a lá Stephane Grappelli/Django Reinhardt-Joe Venuti/Eddie Lang," Rice acknowledges, and he might have added that the absence of a violin also complicates things. Guitarist Carlini was once a member of David Grisman's group, and this one mirrors Grisman's lineup (minus the drummer), so one might use Grisman's catchall term "dawg music" to describe the result. It's really a hybrid of acoustic jazz and bluegrass, and perhaps leans a bit more toward jazz than Grisman's music, however, which is where the reference to Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt's Hot Club of France comes in. Unlike most musicians, Rice acknowledges that categorizing music "has some merit" in that it helps non-musicians figure out "where to find it on the radio or in the record store." (It also helps mere listeners determine whether they're going to like it.) So, let's say that fans of Grisman and/or the Hot Club will feel at home here as Carlini and company improvise effectively on a set of Carlini's tunes that sound like they could have been written for a straight-ahead jazz group even though they're being played on what are considered to be country instruments. The music is a lot of fun, and the band probably gets invited to twice as many music festivals this way.

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