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Simon Mayor — The Art of Mandolin
(Acoustic Music CDACS 065, 2014, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2014-02-10

The Art of Mandolin Cover artBritish mandolin master Mayor offers this collection of fifteen tunes, a selection of four centuries worth of classical adaptations and traditional pieces, a half dozen originals, a beautiful Django Reinhardt tune, and even Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag,” here arranged as a mandolin septet with guitars. Mayor plays mandola, mandocello, guitar, and of course mandolin, often multi-tracked; joining him is regular collaborator Hillary James on mandobass, double bass, and guitar, as well as contributing vocals on the beautiful “Brezairola,” a French folk lullaby from Chants d’Auvergne, arranged by Joseph Canteloube in the 1920s. No amplifiers here, this is an entirely acoustic set, with one live piece (“Bolero” by Calace) opening. Mayor’s original “Taxi Horn Rag” fits nicely with the Joplin tune, drawing inspiration from its style, while other Mayor originals here tend to reference folk and classical stylings. The Irish traditional “Lord Mayo” receives an introspective arrangement here for solo mandocello, while Brahms’ “Hungarian Dance No. 2” gets the impressive full mandolin family treatment. A Mayor-James composition “Nocturne in Blue and Gold” is one of the disc’s most hauntingly beautiful originals. The booklet includes ‘Mandolin Journey,’ a short four-centuries-in-three-pages history of the mando-family of instruments from their origins in the Mediterranean to the flat-back models pioneered by Gibson in the 20th century. In all, like all of mayor’s previous releases, this is a thoroughly enjoyable collection sure to please all fans of acoustic stringed instrumental music.

Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Simon Mayor

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