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Mike Marshall and Darol Anger
The Duo: At Home and On the Range

Review by Steven Stone
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Mike Marshall and Darol Anger The Duo: At Home and On the Range

CD Stock Number: Compass Records 743332

 

  Some musicians are such superior pickers that we mere mortals can only listen dumbfounded to their impeccable chops. Mike Marshall and Darol Anger must be aliens since human beings just can not play like this. Most of the selections on this CD are from their live gigs, with no overdubs, and no cleaning up flubs in the studio, just two guys on stage. Both these gentlemen are on my fantasy-league all-star perfect pickers team.

Unlike their last Compass CD, Brand New Can, this release The Duo: At Home and On the Range is more accessible, with an emphasis on melody-based playing rather than hard-core jazz "blowing." "Down in the Willow Garden" and "Shebag, Shemor" feature some especially subtle and beautiful melodic lines. "Gator Strut" is more of a jazz number that showcases Marshall and Anger's abilities to play outside and well as inside the tune’s melodic confines.

Darol Anger is known principally for his fiddle playing, but in the duo format he expands to include the baritone violin. Mike Marshall not only plays his fabled Gibson Lloyd Loar-signed F-5 mandolin, but a mandocello, guitar, and fiddle. On "The Fiddles of Doom Medley" Anger and Marshall's double fiddle arrangement rips through several old standards including Bill Monroe's "Wheel Hoss." Imagine Bill's bluegrass standard deconstructed by jazz androids. Marshall’s guitar playing is also damn fine. Not only a great back-up player, but also he can put together some hauntingly beautiful leads. His solo on the Bluegrass staple "In The Pines" floats above the treetops. "Hot Nickels" also shows off Marshall's impeccable mandolin technique. His right hand produces some remarkable rhythmic patterns.

Tim Carter, the on–location engineer, captured all the micro-dynamics of these live performances. The balance between instruments is consistently fine, as is the sense of the room's natural reverberence. The "at home" selections are a bit drier and closer-mic'ed, but they also have a wonderful presence and immediacy.

If you want to find out just how far two musicians can go with acoustic music, this CD has some answers. After 23 years of playing together, Mike Marshall and Darol Anger are in no danger of running out of musical ideas or discovering new musical ground.

 

 

Enjoyment: 90

Sound Quality: 90

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
 

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