Friday, July 20, 2018


This is some mighty mandolinin', from Canada's eight-string king. Happy both singing and playing, Collins gives us the best of both worlds over these two sets, one all vocals and the other instrumentals. Like all good bluegrass players, he has a sense of humour in his choices, as well as a sense of adventure. On the instrumental side, that sees him rework Pink Floyd's Goodbye Blue Sky, while on the vocals disc (the Tongue one, of course), he has a go at everyone from Nick Drake to Roger Miller to The Hollies. A relaxed singer with that rustic quality to his vocals, he turns both Just A Gigolo and King Midas In Reverse into numbers that sound like folk wisdom.

When it comes to the pure playing on Groove, the whole trio shines, and shows off some multi-instrumental skills as well. Collins moves from mandolin to mandocello to violin. Mike Mezzatesta handles guitar, mandolin, and violin, and James McEleney covers bass and bowed acoustic double-bass, depending on the needs. This lets them jam in imaginative combos such as dueling mandolins on David Grisman's classic Dawg Grass, twin fiddles on Collins' own Kentakaya Waltz, and several jazz/bluegrass numbers featuring fast tempos or old-time fun. There's tremendous interplay among the trio as they come up with twists and turns, always in glorious harmony. As much as I love the story-telling on Tongue, my jaw dropped over Groove.

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