In the list of flatpicking guitarists who came of age in the post-Tony Rice/Russ Barenberg/David Grier era, Grant Gordy and Ross Martin emerge as two standout musicians. They’ve absorbed bluegrass playing at its deepest roots while also being open to expanding their technique and vocabulary to include the language of modern jazz, swing, and other styles.
Gordy rose to acclaim as the guitarist with the David Grisman Sextet, while Martin has thrilled audiences and listeners with his intricate, highly-melodic playing with the Matt Flinner Trio. Gordy and Martin first met when they lived in Colorado and have maintained a friendship and musical partnership ever since.
On their debut recording, these two guitarists brilliantly engage each other, intertwining their instruments to create layers of intricate harmony and counterpoint melodies. Unlike some similar duo projects, this isn’t a glorified jam session where the musicians trade solos. The music here is deep and rich and complex, unveiling new nuances and subtleties over repeated listening. All-instrumental recordings in bluegrass and acoustic music can end up relatively flat and one-dimensional at times, but there’s no danger of that here. We’ve got two brilliant musicians devoted to playing down their own egos and playing up their shared melodies. One highlight is their brilliant medley of “Snowflake Reel” and “Bright Size Life,” a jazz standard written by guitarist Pat Metheny. How the duo relate to the common chord progressions and create a complex interaction between two lead lines played in harmony is a testimony to the level of musicianship these guitarists bring to this project.
Year Of The Dog is a worthy addition to the recent influx of twin-guitar albums. Filled with daring, harmonically inventive solos and richly conceived twin-guitar parts, this project showcases two of today’s finest flatpickers at the height of their creative powers. Highly recommended. (www.grantgordy.com)DJM