Sonically founded in bluegrass, jazz and American acoustic music, the virtuosic collaboration between esteemed mandolinist Matt Flinner, guitarist Ross Martin and bassist Eric Thorin is a finely tuned compositional machine. Over the last eight years, the trio has been writing new music the day of any given show and performing it as part of that night’s concert. The resulting push to constantly create new material and challenge themselves to find new sounds and textures has led the trio to a unique sound all their own, and has also stretched the boundaries of what a bluegrass trio can do. Now with over four hundred tunes in their repertoire, the trio released Traveling Roots on Compass Records on January 22nd, a road-crafted sequel to their 2012 release, Winter Harvest.
“We’re building on what we started with Music Du Jour, debuting tunes the day they were written. But I think Traveling Roots is a more mature CD; we’ve done about 150 of these shows now, so we’re getting to choose 12 tunes out of over four hundred. We wanted to choose the few tunes that really defined the group and where we’d gone.”
For many of their 2016 shows, the trio will be continuing their “Music du Jour” project, but they’ll be adding special guests to the mix, writing music the day of the show for the trio plus one. They’ve already collaborated with Tony Trischka, Sam Bush, Darol Anger, Alison Brown, Frank Vignola and several other bluegrass and jazz luminaries as part of the project; coming up later in the year they’ll have Danny Barnes, Joe Craven, Dave Douglas and Tony Furtado, to name a few.
Stylistically, the group is self-defined as “deeply-rooted new acoustic music,” and Flinner himself “blurs the lines between jazz and bluegrass, traditional and avant-garde (Associated Press).” Originally a banjo player, Flinner won the National Banjo Contest at Winfield Kansas in 1990 and then returned and took the same prize the following year on mandolin. Flinner showcased his mastery of the bluegrass style and genre and was driven to seek greater degrees of musical maturity through jazz studies. “Bluegrass and jazz are both improvisational and truly American,” says Flinner. “We strive to advance the (bluegrass) genre and do new things with it, hopefully creating a unique form out of other uniquely American forms.”
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