John Reischman’s place in bluegrass mandolin is unchallenged and undeniable. Few other mandolin players have succeeded in establishing such a signature tone, buoyed by impeccable taste and dazzling musicianship. To paraphrase an old banking commercial, when John Reischman plays, we listen.
Add to that the sublime guitar playing of Scott Nygaard, another under-recognized gem of a musician, and the emerging talents of Sharon Gilchrist, who’s played and recorded with bluegrass greats including Peter Rowan and Tony Rice, and you have as formidable a threesome as anyone could assemble in bluegrass and acoustic music today. Nygaard and Reischman go way back, of course, to John’s classic CDs such as Up In The Woods. And at a recent reunion as instructors at a music camp, they rekindled that passion and excitement in playing together. So it made sense for them to add Gilchrist and sit down in a splendid recording studio where they performed live in a circle in front of a “small forest of mics,” as Nygaard explains.
Running through mutual influences ranging from Kenny Baker, Bill Monroe, Clarence and Roland White and a host of legendary fiddlers, the trio has created a unique and mesmerizing sound based on deep empathy and skilled harmony. The result, the Harmonic Tone Revealers, is nothing short of one of the best acoustic CDs of the year. Nygaard, a devoted Clarence White student, displays all his skills on a rendering of one of Clarence’s most famous tunes, “I Am A Pilgrim.” With Gilchrist on bass here, Reischman comes in with a signature solo, elegant and duly respectful of the haunting melody. The Kenny Baker classic “Sail Away Ladies” gives Reischman and Gilchrist a chance to show their unison chops, with Sharon taking a skillful solo that leaves no doubt she belongs in such strong company.
Nygaard is one of the clearest-toned and lyrical flatpickers, and his striking intro to “My True Love Away” is the perfect platform for Reischman to build his solo upon. A lovely tune played with the utmost musicality and sensitivity. Same for “Midnight On The Water,” only here Reischman and Gilchrist sculpt an elegant harmonized introduction, only to let Nygaard delicately add his articulate arpeggios as foundational support to the melody. This is music where repeated listening only uncovers more to appreciate each time.
The Harmonic Tone Revealers highlights three of today’s most accomplished and respected acoustic musicians. Filled with luxuriously gorgeous music and intriguing renditions of popular and obscure tunes, this CD can’t fail to please anyone who loves bluegrass and acoustic music.(www.scottnygaard.com)DJM