Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In review--Breathless road trip

Mike Marshall
An Adventure 1999-2009
Adventure Music

I’m not sure that a prolific musician such as master mandolin player Mike Marshall needs a retrospective. The musician’s output is already on this side of incredible and he’s teamed up with just about every kind of musician out there from early music to bluegrass players and Brazilian legends. His album with the Swedish trio Vasen made sense too because similar to the musicians that comprise Vasen, Marshall also knows his way around winding musical roads.

On the other hand, to take in the wide scope and breadth of Marshall’s work on the Adventure Music label, lasting over a decade now, a retrospective places this musician’s work in perspective. His musical output has been phenomenal --not just in the number of albums released, but in his versatility and adaptability to varying musical genres. This guy performs virtuoso mandolin in so many musical languages that it must cause listeners’ heads to spin. I’m not talking Linda Blair here, but if you’ve heard Marshall in action then you must have done your share of double takes. You might have fallen out of your chair a few times too. Certainly Marshall’s performances won’t please those listeners already weak in the knees. As CD’s title (An Adventure) implies, only the brave at heart will embark on this journey.

Tracks from nine albums are featured on An Adventure. And the producers had the formidable task of culling songs from those albums which include Psychograss (2005), Choro Famoso (2004), Brazil Duets (re-issue on Adventure Music in 2005), and Mike Marshall and Darol Anger withVasen (2007) just to name a handful. And if you’re wondering if this eclectic collection hangs together the answer is yes. Marshall acts as the linchpin.

So does Mike Marshall need to release a retrospective? Probably not, but I’m glad that he did. An Adventure provides a shortcut for the mandolin player’s newest fans and a roadside souvenir for his devoted followers. The adventure of course hasn’t ended and is as they say in the movies, just beginning, if you can actually catch your breath after listening to this recording. The sheer beauty of tracks such as Quando Mais Longe, Mais Perto for instance might snatch your breath away, if the views from the winding road, Egypt and Loke’s Troubles haven’t already. Enjoy the ride.


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