Jacob Jolliff – Instrumentals, Vol. 2: Mandolin Mysteries

At the end of May, Jacob Jolliff released his latest album, Instrumentals, Vol. 2: Mandolin Mysteries, on Adhyaropa Records. If you are familiar with Jolliff, you have probably listened to Instrumentals Vol 1, released in 2018 when Jacob was a youthful 27 years old. Now in his mid-thirties, this new album of originals reflects his maturation as a composer. These tunes focus equally on musical mastery and on Jolliff’s newest focus, developing melodies. Jacob and his new album reveal him as a hardly, strictly, bluegrass musician, to coin a phrase.

Playing with Jolliff on the Mandolin Mysteries is George Jackson on fiddle, Ross Martin on guitar, and Myles Sloniker on bass, all of whom are able to match him note for note. Jacob wrote most of the tunes over the past year while traveling with this quartet, and many were composed on the piano which gave him the opportunity to search out melody lines.

At the heart of the album are three movements constructed like a concerto. The first, The Art Heist Suite Mvt 1, is upbeat and sets the mood and thematic melodies to come. The second movement is slower and more lyrical. The third and last movement moves quickly, is upbeat and exciting. 

Track number 8, Blossoms Will Run Away, is a beautiful composition written in waltz time. It is the final two tunes on the album that lean the most towards bluegrass. Silver Blaze would give Bill Monroe’s Rawhide a run for its money. Jolliff wraps up the album with Twin Rocks. While not strictly a bluegrass album, the interplay between fiddle and mandolin still fits in the bluegrass genre. A very enjoyable listen.

The album can be purchased directly from the artist as an audio CD, vinyl LP, or download.