While attending IBMA last month, I was handed a large number of CDs by various artists. I still haven’t managed to listen through the entire stack, but I’m working on it. Today I’m listening to Mando Lore, a new CD by Brian Taheny & Andrew Collins.
The obligatory disclaimer that John mentioned in one of his earlier posts applies here as well. This CD could not be called bluegrass in the strictest sense, but it is great music.
Andrew Collins is a young virtuoso mandolin artist from Canada. We’ve mentioned his recordings previously here on Bluegrass Today.
This recording was my introduction to Brian Taheny. Taheny is a Celtic player from County Sligo in Ireland. He’s quite talented and he and Andrew seem to have found some common ground with the mandolin.
Mando Lore is just what the name suggests, an album of mostly old tunes played on the mandolin. Twin mandolins actually. Both gentlemen do play guitar and mandocello at one point or another on the CD. Taheny plays the bozouki as well, but the focus is the mandolin. Twin mandolin harmonies and alternating leads are the order of the day. The tunes range from old Celt-Irish tunes to Bill Monroe numbers. The predominate sound is that of Celtic influence.
What strikes me about the CD is that the music is very beautiful and subtle to the point that you can play it in the background while doing something else and it doesn’t require your attention. On the other hand, any of the 16 tracks on the record will bear repeated, close scrutiny. The intricacy of the harmony parts, the flawless execution, and the beautiful melodies should pass any connoisseur’s listening test.
The recording itself is of excellent quality, really showcasing the tones these two players are capable of getting out the intstruments. Seven of the sixteen tracks are medlies of two or more tunes so you really get your money’s worth with the project. The tracks were recorded over a period of two days, following one day of jamming between the two artists. That day of jamming was the first time the two had met in person.
In addition to the fine music he played, Andrew deserves some credit for a great album design as well. The package is nicely done with a retro look to the graphics, including a photo of an old phonograph player on the back cover. Opening the package, you discover the CD looks like an old vinyl LP. I was grinning before I even heard the first note, and then grinning for another couple hours as I played the CD several times throughout the day.
If you like Celtic sounds, old tunes, or mandolins, this CD is high on the recommendation list.