Following in the New Acoustic tradition of David Grisman, Tony Rice and Mike Marshall, the Matt Flinner Trio likewise starts with the tempo and cadence of bluegrass and injects the soul of folk, the elegance of chamber music and the thrill of jazz. But these guys go one step further: they each compose, rehearse and introduce to live audiences their songs all in the same day. Winter Harvest was literally written on the road, as the MFT had over 200 songs to choose from out of roughly 70 dates when it came time to record their follow-up to Music du Jour, the first album they recorded with tunes devised that way.
As he is one of the hottest mandolin players on the scene today, it would be easy to focus on Flinner’s fleet fingered delivery, but this is a true collective effort. Ross Martin (acoustic guitar) and Eric Thorin (acoustic bass) play virtually equal roles as songwriting contributors and performers. The roles of lead, rhythm and melody are shared and interchanged liberally, making it impossible for ears to pick a true leader. Since these songs weren’t noodled on for long, they sound fresh, with a certain degree of complexity that didn’t have time to get too complex. The picks in my book are the buoyant “Raji’s Romp,” “Thursday Night At The Sip ‘n Dip,” a funky “Slapping Is encouraged” (video below) and the humorous “The Stumbling Bro,” which features crashing noises provided by Flinner’s four year old son Lucas (reminds me of the car crash sound effects of a certain Marshall/Darol Anger recording).
Set for release on January 31 by Compass Records, Winter Harvest continues on an idea started by the Matt Flinner Trio. Judging from the music, I think it’s a pretty good idea they should keep on pursuing. Visit Matt Flinner’s website.