Matt Flinner

Walking on the Moon

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Matt Flinner is probably one of the best and most inventive mandolin players around. His bluegrass experience has stood him in good stead, but there's far more to his playing than that. He's equally comfortable ranging through jazz and even a touch of funk, as he ably demonstrates on "Caravan/Cissy Strut," where he takes off on delicious angular runs that seem to come from nowhere. He's well-supported by his band, with guitarist Gawain Matthews taking a very strong role, proving himself to be as creative as the leader. But there's no doubt that it's Flinner's album. He can range from the delicate, on "Ice Queen," to down, on "Shufflebeam," and his treatment of the Police's "Walking on the Moon" is wonderfully sensual, stretching out the pseudo-reggae rhythm to excellent effect. The closest he comes to bluegrass is "Walk the Plank," which is a real showcase for his fluid virtuosity, and even then it's more newgrass than anything traditional. The closer, "Humdinger," turns out to be a subtle meditation rather than a fast, flourishing piece, but Flinner really doesn't need to prove anything. There are very few who even come close to his class.

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