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Chris Thile
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

Review by Steven Stone
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Chris Thile Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

CD Stock Number: Sugar Hill Records


  Even young prodigies eventually grow up. Mandolin whiz Chris Thile has reached the ripe old age of 20, and he shows no signs of narrowing down his ever-expanding musical horizons. His latest, Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, is described by Bryan Sutton, one of the principle guitarists on the album, as "modern acoustic/neo-chamber music." Sounds about right to me. On this album Thile determinedly expands our working definitions of both musical virtuosity and melodic structure.

Unlike many virtuosos, whose music veers off into a netherworld of technically challenging but musically vapid compositions, Thile's tunes are catchy. The opening number "Song for a Young Queen" (penned for Natalie Portman) is infectious enough to winnow its way into your head and get stuck there. "Club G.R.O.S.S", the most hard-core jazz tune on the CD, still manages to swing, with Jeff Coffin's tenor sax trading "fours" with Chris. The award for most rhythmically and melodically complex selection goes to "Riddles after Dark", a duet that features Bela Fleck's banjo and Thile's mandolin spiraling and jousting through 3:24 of seemingly endless themes, variations, and contrapuntal harmonies.

Joining Thile on Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost is an A-list of acoustic sidemen. Stuart Duncan and Sara Watkins play fiddle, Jerry Douglas is on dobro, Bryan Sutton and Sean Watkins handle guitar chores, Bela Fleck is the banjoist, Edgar Meyer and Byron House perform bass duties, and Jerry Coffin plays tenor sax for one song. Chris Thile not only composed every tune on Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost, but served as its producer as well. Gary Paczosa was both the recording engineer and co-mixer along with Chris. Audiophile legend Doug Sax, from The Mastering Lab, put on the finishing sonic touches. The sound is simply impeccable.

My wife hates most jazz. Even the classics like Kind of Blue leave her cold, but Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost got both her thumbs up on first listen. Here is complex, musically innovative music that is still euphonic and accessible. Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost is among the most musically essential releases of 2001.



Enjoyment: 95

Sound Quality: 95











































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