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Phillips, Grier & Flinner

Looking Back – 2002 (Compass)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Phillips, Grier & Flinner

Individually, each member of Phillips, Grier & Flinner has been well-known and highly regarded in bluegrass circles for years. Todd Phillips has been a steady presence on bass on the California scene, including lengthy stints with Laurie Lewis. The resume of David Grier, a superlative flatpick guitarist (and son of Lamar Grier, longtime banjo player in Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys), includes time spent with the Lynn Morris Band plus a number of solo projects. Matt Flinner and his mandolin have been mainstays with a number of bands in the Northwest, most notably in recent years the band led by his wife, Judith Edelman.

None of the three have made their careers entirely in bluegrass though, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the nine instrumental tracks on "Looking Back" are somewhat eclectic in mixing elements of bluegrass, country, jazz and blues, and the choice of material runs the gamut as well, from Monroe ("Tennessee Blues") to Hendrix ("Little Wing") to Lennon/McCartney ("I Want You - She's So Heavy"). It's a little bit of a stretch to call this disc "country" or any other one-word label, but these guys have solid credentials, and they've come up with something that's stylish and interesting.