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Robin & Steve

 

TRAVELLERS

Dirty Linen, April/May 2000

Often when musicians of high stature pool their talents, the who's who aspect overshadows what is played or, more importantly, how they played. But in the case of these new guard giants, mandolinists Butch Baldassari and John Reischman, with their guitarist of a Celtic dimension, Robin Bullock (also cittern and mandolin), the result is perhaps the best, most unpretentious acoustic music to come around in some time. Though there's plenty of spectacular playing from each of the three, there're no defining solos that blow the others away. Rather, the trio captures the soul of each melody and sets it free through artful, delicate expression. As the title suggests, not only do Baldassari, Bullock and Reischman embark upon an acoustic, global excursion, they do so with enticing dance music from their visits. Interestingly, the further they stray from the familiar 'grass, old-timey arena ("Little Rabbit," "Dead March," "Arkansas Traveller"), the brighter they shine. Latin tunes ("Jesusito En Chihuahua," "El Grillo") frolic fecklessly, while the Venezuelan waltz "Como Llora Una Estrella" glides with romanticism. Colonial pieces ("Kelsterne Gardens" and "Childgrove") render a certain spiritual piety. "President Garfield's Hornpipe" and "President Grant's Hornpipe" have a relaxed, lighthearted approach, as do Texas fiddle tunes "Chief Sitting Bull" and "Blue Eagle." Reischman's "Birdland Bounce," a swinging Django Reinhardt styling, is an instant classic. Travellers has the trappings of becoming a road-tested classic over time.

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