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John Reischman & the Jaybirds

John Resichman & The Jaybirds – 2001 (Corvus/Copper Creek)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by John Reischman & the Jaybirds

Mandolinist John Reischman has been a fixture on the West Coast bluegrass and old time music scene for the last couple of decades, having played for and with folks like Laurie Lewis, Tony Rice, Kathy Kallick and the Good Ol' Persons. He steps into the spotlight here with his own band for 14 tracks that manage to mix straight-ahead bluegrass with both progressive and more traditional overtones.

Known as a superlative instrumentalist, Reischman shows here that he can indeed sing a little bit, and his bandmates - Greg Spatz on fiddle, Nick Hornbuckle on banjo, Jim Nunally on guitar and Trisha Gagnon on bass - join with him to form a pretty solid ensemble that plays well together without competing or stepping on each other's licks.

The harmonies are good, but it's Gagnon who carries most of the vocal load. The bluegrass purists may prefer a voice more in the Delia Bell or Wilma Lee Cooper mold, but Gagnon is a fine singer who's easy to listen to. The material is fairly eclectic, ranging from Reischman originals to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings ("Winter's Come And Gone") to traditional favorites ("Bravest Cowboy"), but it's all well done.