One of the more exciting mandolin events of recent years was the pairing of virtuosi Mike Marshall and Chris Thile for a recording of mandolin duets, followed by a tour of live shows in support. The CD, Into The Cauldron on Sugar Hill, was an immediate critical success and a welcome opportunity for fans of Thile’s mandolin playing in particular to hear him cut loose outside of the more pop-oriented constraints of his work with Nickel Creek.
Now, Sugar Hill has announced that a set of live recordings from that 2003 tour will be released on January 24, 2006 as Live Duets. Only one tune from the Into The Cauldron release is included, and having witnessed this tour when it stopped in Blacksburg, VA two years ago, I can attest to the power and spontaneity of the performances, and the sheer joy and love for the mandolin music they played that was evident from the stage. They featured a number of original compositions, as well as traditional fiddle music, classical violin pieces, and several examples of the Brazilian mandolin music to which Marshall has devoted himself of late.
I don’t know if any tracks from that Blacksburg show made it onto the CD, but if that performance was emblematic of the rest of the tour – and I’m sure that it was – Live Duets will excite and entertain fans of a variety of mandolin music upon its release.