Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile
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Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile
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This collaboration between Chris Thile, leader of Nonesuch quintet the Punch Brothers and former Nickel Creek vocalist-mandolin player, and double bassist Edgar Meyer is a meeting of two prodigious, Grammy Award-winning talents in, quite literally, the most down home of settings. Co-writing a dozen compositions, the pair recorded their work at Meyer's house in Nashville. No frills, no words and no other musicians were needed, keeping the focus on thed quick-thinking repartee between these two players. Their wide-ranging musical dialogue incorporates bluegrass, folk, country, and classical elements.
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If you like small ensemble acoustic music you will find something to love on this album. Its fun, beautifully recorded and the music is constantly enthralling.
Partly because of the freedom that the players feel to use dissonance, and plenty of it. The other part that makes it challenging for me is the freedom of their melodic improvisation. There are few predictable song patterns to warn me what is coming next! It reminds me of Miles Davis in that regard, when he moved into modal jazz.
The recording is good but not audiophile quality. The bass comes through with all the bottom end your system can supply, but the upper register and bow noise are well integrated with the basement. You will need speakers with quick bass to keep up with Edgar Meyer though!
Chris Thile's mandolin is clear, but I do not hear the wood of the instrument like I do with David Grisman's recordings. There is no digital "bite" or harshness to the treble, in fact the upper harmonics of the mandolin are M.I.A. The soundstage is a bit reverberant and diffuse too. Nit picks all, the sound was pleasant but not distinguished.
Having said all that, I know this will be music I sit with and grow to love. Preview the tunes, and if it is even remotely your cup of tea, perhaps just a little dissonant, I suggest you get it and sit with it awhile. I feel confident it will grow on you.
The next day I was listening on headphones at work figuring that I'd give it a fair shot. I'd take the headphones off to do something and when they came back on, I couldn't tell if this was the same track or a different one. There is only so much tonal interest to be had in the same 2 instruments on an entire CD and Edgar's playing-while jaw dropping-gets a bit repetitive for my attention span. The tracks seem to be in the same (or similar) keys and the feel is very much like the last several CDs of Edgar's.
I love the old MCA stuff, but the Sony Edgar Meyer is not doing much for me. Great playing as always, but for me this was just more of the same. Get it if you're one of the "Edgar can do NO wrong-listen to how fast he plays" fans but if you are looking for more than that and already have some of the other CDs of his maybe this is a good one to check for in the local library.