Todd Phillips is best-known as a first-call bassist in bluegrass, though like his former boss, David Grisman, he is a tough musician to pigeonhole into any one category. This session for Compass consists of nine originals, which draw from jazz and classical music. The leader is heard on bass, mandolin, octave mandolin, mando-cello, and percussion. He's joined by Paul McCandless (soprano sax, oboe, English horn, bass clarinet), Joe Caploe (marimba and vibes), violinist Darol Anger (another Grisman alum), and drummer Paul VanWageningen. The opening track, "Shuffled," falls into a post-bop groove, with the leader's melodic bass complemented by McCandless' tasty bass clarinet. English horn and marimba introduce "Paths," an exotic piece which quickly detours from the expected path. The bittersweet "Looking Back" combines oboe and mando-cello into a compelling ballad. Anyone familiar with Todd Phillips' earlier recordings as a leader will be delighted with this highly recommended CD, too.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden