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Matt Flinner

Latitude – 2001 (Compass)

Reviewed by Henry Koretzky

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CDs by Matt Flinner

With all the high-profile mandolinists in bluegrass these days - Sam Bush, Chris Thile, Ricky Skaggs, Johnny Staats, Ronnie McCoury - it's easy to lose sight of Matt Flinner. But this unprepossessing picker deserves a wider audience.

While this is Flinner's second solo album, his previous experience with Sugarbeat, the Judith Edelman Band and a trio with guitarist David Grier and bassist Todd Phillips (both part of the house band here) have honed both his chops and compositional skills. Augmented by ubiquitous dobroist Jerry Douglas and fiddlers Stuart Duncan and Darol Anger, Flinner presents 11 original instrumentals integrating jazz, bluegrass and Celtic touches into twisting, challenging and uplifting new acoustic music.

Even on driving tunes like "Sam I Am," Flinner's arranging and Phillips' sensitive production result in a spacious, uncluttered sound, while the convoluted hairpin turns of numbers like "Miasma" and the six-minute epic "Rayburn Avenue" are formidable enough to keep masterful musicians like Grier and Douglas on their toes throughout. Flinner is ready to shine among the new generation of mandolin innovators.