John Mastroianni

Live at the Silvermine

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The eight tunes on this CD (five of them Mastroianni originals) were recorded live over the course of two nights at a colonial-style inn called the Silvermine in Norwalk, CT, and the intimate setting is reflected in the music. Mastroianni's compositions tend to be a little bit on the abstruse side, but his playing is warm and inviting; so is that of his excellent sidemen, who include guitarist Steve Brien and the great bass-and-drums duo of Harvie Swartz and Terry Clarke. The focus is on mid-tempo, modal-sounding numbers and gentle ballads, but when the band kicks up the tempo on "It's You or No One" (the sole standard on the program) and the barnburning "Nasty Masty," the result is really thrilling; the interplay between bass and guitar on the latter is especially exciting. Mastroianni exhibits a clear debt to Phil Woods, but it's an influence that has been digested and absorbed into his own fairly personal approach, and his ability to make compositions as complex as "The Hang Man" and "Just Lookin'" as approachable as they are is a testament to his taste as both a writer and a player. Highly recommended overall.

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