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Matt Flinner Quartet
Walking on the Moon

Review By Steven Stone
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Matt Flinner Quartet Walking on the Moon

CD Number: Compass Records 7 4351 2


  Matt Flinner's last outing consisted of an acoustic trio with David Grier on guitar and Todd Phillips on acoustic bass. This year's installment features Flinner leading an electric band on his personal odyssey of how far away from bluegrass a mandolin player can get and still be true to the essential nature of the mandolin. Guitarist Gawain Mathews, electric bassist Sam Mathews, drummer Aaron Mathews and special guest Colin Bricker on sampler, join Flinner as he explores the outer limits of electric jazz.

Along with four original songs by Flinner, three from Mathews, and one by Bevan, the Flinner quartet works its way through Duke Ellington's "Caravan" and "Cissy Strut," along with Sting's "Walking on the Moon." My vote for the most infectious original tune goes to "Ice Queen" which sports a convoluted structure coupled with a euphonious melody. Sting's "Walking On The Moon" lends itself beautifully to the Flinner quartet's musical explorations. Imagine Chick Corea's Return to Forever with less space and a more organic core.

Self-produced by the quartet, recorded by Colin Bricker at NFA recording in Denver, Colorado, and mastered by Dave Sinko at The Sound Emporium in Nashville, Tennessee, this CD successfully overcomes the difficulty of putting an acoustic mandolin into a mix surrounded by amplified instruments. Flinner's Gilchrist mandolin sounds just as natural as it has on previous all-acoustic outings. Mathew's electric guitar has great bite and his wide range of tonal shadings come through with remarkable delicacy and depth.

Last month I reviewed Don Stiernberg's Unseasonably Cool, which demonstrates just how well a mandolin can fit into a traditional jazz combo. Matt Flinner's Walking on the Moon delves into the outer edge of jazz, pushing the musical envelope. Both Stiernberg and Flinner are on the leading edge of a contemporary mandolin renaissance. Listen to these two disks back-to-back to experience the true flexibility and creative range of a mandolin-led jazz group.




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