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While this recording has Mike Marshall’s name on itand he was an instrumental member of David Grisman’s quartetthe presence of Chris Thile makes Into the Cauldron somewhat of an event. And what an event it is. Recordings like this smack of a single element—virtuosity. Here are two mandolin masters showing off in a duet style using vehicles ranging from Bach’s Goldberg Variations to Charlie Parker’s "Scrapple From the Apple." The quality of the playing makes it sound alien or divinely inspired. The two mandolinists choose a wide variety of musical genres to make their point. Beautiful the Brazilian Baroque "Desvairada" and lyrical "The Saga Of Harrison Crabfeathers." Lest one thinks the disc devoid of hoe- downs, one must look no further than "Fisher’s Hornpipe."
Of the originals, "Stranded in Kodiac" is the most superb, finding Marshall playing the mandocello. Both players employ string damping to great effect to make this an exciting moment. The disc closes with a harmonic "Shamrock Shore," a piece that shows an clear but unintuitive link between American bluegrass music and traditional Irish music. Into the Cauldron is a beautiful recordingeven if these two masters are showing off. More power to them.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.