Mike Marshall

Mike Marshall's Big Trio

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Veteran mandolinist Mike Marshall has long been acknowledged as one of the leading acoustic instrumentalists, and with this recording he's bringing on a new generation in young fiddler Alex Hargreaves and bassist Paul Kowert. That Marshall is in charge of the proceedings is fair enough -- all the tunes are his, apart from a small section at the beginning of "Three Dragons," which comes from a Väsen piece. The youngsters can certainly keep pace with him every step of the way in some tricky music, with plenty of sharp turns and complex arrangements, and together they make a sound that belies their trio status. Quite how to file this music is a bit of a problem. It's not folk, it's not bluegrass, it's not jazz or classical, but draws from all those to create a modern acoustic thread. If there's one criticism to be made, it's that the sound relies more on chops than on flowing melodies. There's no doubting the technical ability of all three here, but to simply let things roll at times would have been lovely. Still, ultimately, that's a minor carp about an excellent disc.

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