JOHN MAILANDER, WALKING DISTANCE
This young fiddler has surrounded himself with top-flight players capable of highlighting his fine work and exploring all of the avenues his interests have lead him down. In eight tunes, Mailander explores paths bluegrass and old-time paths with a touch of Celtic thrown in for good measure. The tunes take their time averaging well over four minutes each, allowing for exploration of the themes.
Lukas Pool plays some great clawhammer banjo, especially on the final cut “Tell Me,” with its great ending, a descending race to stop. On “Nahatlatch,” a fine Mark Simos tune, Pool shadows Mailander’s fiddle through the twists and turns of the melody, keeping it mellow but full. His banjo with Mailander’s octave mandolin sets the tone for this not quite Celtic but certainly Emerald sounding tune “Inverness.” Joe Walsh’s mandolin is tasteful throughout the project. Tony Trischka heats things up everywhere he appears. The banjo-fiddle duet on “Big Eared Chicken” is as fun as it is hot. “Hayduke” almost melts down, but doesn’t. It just rests somewhere short of breaking the sound barrier for speed. Molly Tuttle plays some blazing and remarkably tasteful guitar here and throughout the project. Her vocal on “Gentle On My Mind” is a pure delight. The song lives anew in her interpretation. “Song For John” is a tribute to the late John McCann who was a light to many learning the musician’s ways.
From the distinctive cover art by Monica DiVitry to the final notes of “Tell Me,” this is a rich recording from a young fiddler with a lot of talent. This recording ranges far and wide and, while not all bluegrass, it is all very good music. Of course, every music changes with the ages and, if this recording is any indication, it’s going in some rewarding new directions. (John Mailander, 4811 49th St., San Diego, CA 92120, www.johnmailander.com.)RCB