Matt Flinner

Latitude

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Mandolinist Matt Flinner is one the most exciting jazz-grass players on today's scene. Although influenced by pioneers like David Grisman, he has developed his own approach to acoustic jazz. His new album Latitude uses 1999's Phillips, Grier & Flinner as its launching point, bringing guitarist David Grier and bassist Todd Phillips along for the ride. In fact, "Rock Paper Scissors" and "33" find them once again performing as a trio. The remainder of the album has been supplemented by guests including fiddle players Darol Anger and Stuart Duncan, and dobroist Jerry Douglas. These jazzy originals walk the line between the swing jazz of early Grisman and the spacier experiments of Mike Marshall, leaving the listener with a relaxed acoustic sound, grounded in tradition. The fiddle work throughout the album is excellent, adding another distinct voice and filling out the sound. Darol Anger only plays on two cuts -- "Sam I Am" and "Rayburn Avenue" -- but stamps both with his matchless style. Duncan plays on five cuts, bringing a more traditional approach that melds perfectly with the other players. Even when the basic lineup is augmented with a fiddle and Douglas' dobro -- "Latitude" and "Rayburn Avenue" -- the sound remains spacious. Grier's guitar work throughout Latitude, whether playing lead or as merely support, is excellent. He never overplays, and builds his solos in satisfying though unsuspecting ways. While Flinner is certainly the leader here, he generously shares space with the other players. His mandolin work ranges from traditionally based in "Latitude" to the more poetic nuances of "Goodbye Victor." Latitude is a great addition to Flinner's catalog, and will be appreciated by his fans as well as lovers of good acoustic jazz. It shouldn't be missed.

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