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Looking Back by Phillips Grier and Flinner

This guitar/mandolin/bass trio plays in a Fusion sub-genre alternately known as "new acoustic music" or "jazzgrass" [=jazz + bluegrass] or sometimes even "Dawg music," after David "Dawg" Grisman, one of the major proponents of this fusion of jazz, country, bluegrass and world music played by acoustic, bluegrass-style instrumentation. Phillips, Grier and Flinner are a kind of a south of the Mason-Dixon Line counterpart to the String Trio of New York - but where the STNY are based in avant-garde jazz, PGF are based in bluegrass, folk and country, with the shared common ground being the mercurial, Gypsy/Rom-based string-driven swing of Django Reinhardt and the use of spare instrumentation to perform empathetic, complex improvisations. But where the STNY can sometimes come across as cerebral and abstract, PGF are direct and down-to-earth, with a fine amalgam of swing and folk-styled modality. High points include Jimi Hendrix’s "Little Wing," featuring Todd Phillips’ supple Dave Holland-like bass. a superb, pensive investigation of the Mongo Santamaria/John Coltrane classic "Afro Blue" and they take McCoy Tyner’s "Search For Peace" from the shores of Georgia to the balmy climes around the Mediterranean Sea. Most importantly, PGF don’t suffocate the tunes with a lot of extraneous notes or show-off-y playing - throughout, the musicianship is excellent, but it serves the music, not the players’ egos. If you enjoy Oregon and Jethro Burns, Stephane Grappelli and John Fahey, Charlie Haden and Mark O’Connor, and/or almost any acoustic Fusion, Looking Back is a good bet.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Phillips Grier and Flinner
  • CD Title: Looking Back
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Compass
  • Musicians: Todd Phillips: acoustic bass; David Grier: acoustic guitar; Matt Flinner: mandolin.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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