The Jordan Tice Trio can best be described as the younger generation carrying on the String Nation traditions of forefathers like David Grisman, Darol Anger, Edgar Meyer, and more. The trio is made up of Tice on guitar, Simon Chrisman of the Bee Eaters on hammered dulcimer, and bassist Paul Kowert of the Punch Brothers. Of course, in the traditional bluegrass world, the hammered dulcimer is an acquired taste, with the jokes centering on it taking an hour and a half to tune at jam sessions. But in the right hands, such as masters like John McCutcheon, the instrument is capable of wonderful sounds.
All three of the musicians in the Jordan Tice Trio are exceptional at their craft. The album starts off with the impressive tune “The Assumption,” which sets the tone for the rest of the project. The best way I can describe this collection is that it almost falls into the Windham Hill genre, as in similar to the atmospheric new acoustic music featured by the legendary Windham Hill record label back in the day. However, the ethereal sounds on The Secret History do not suggest a blatant pursuit of new melodies, per se. Instead, it’s more of a collection of musical ideas that have been created and expanded upon. At times, the tunes here all sound the same, bordering on the self-indulgent, and I say that as a fan of the genre who wants these guys to succeed. Then again, with other listens, I find that the Trio’s sonic landscapes do lend themselves to being an appropriate soundtrack for the right hike, road trip, or sunrise. And with that in mind, the other standout tracks include “Mountainhead” and “Forest Waltz.” (Patuxent Music, P.O. Box 572, Rockville, MD 20848, www.pxrec.com.)DH