The mercurial, 5x JUNO-nominated/7x Canadian Folk Music Award-winning mandolin maestro Andrew Collins finds himself – through no actual fault of his own – at the epicentre of Canada’s burgeoning acoustic/roots music scene. He didn’t invent it – but he's certainly a major contributor, having co-founded seriously noteworthy Canadian bands like the Creaking String Quartet, the Foggy Hogtown Boys and, more recently, the Andrew Collins Trio.
As Collins gathers up innumerable awards and nominations by these various ensembles, Collins, who’s comfortable on mandolin, fiddle, guitar, mandola and mandocello – is zeroing in on the work he does with his beloved trio: fellow string guru Mike Mezzatesta, whose versatility and mastery shine through on guitar, mandolin, fiddle and mandola, and in-the-pocket James McEleney, holding it down on the bass, mandocello and vocals.
Showcasing a popular collision of bluegrass, folk, jazz, classical, and swing, not to mention a dizzying number of instruments on stage, Collins and Co. appear to live by the old adage, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” – all the more because their new CD, And It Was Good, even tackles the Creation story itself – likely keeping him just ahead of the devil’s grasp. Their equally dynamic genre hopping show is further enhanced by Andrew’s captivating lead vocals and James’ soaring harmonies.
On the new offering, the Trio push into new territory, brilliantly rendering each of the 7 days to secular, musical fruition in this new Chamber Grass disc. And It Was Good IS good – a labour of love inspired by the late Oliver Schroer, if not overseen by his musical specter. The result is a lush-sounding, multi-layered composition bringing fresh meaning to an age-old story while demonstrating the depth of musicianship from each of these three inspirational players.
Despite taking musical cues from David Grisman, Andrew, Mike and James have ventured further down this path of Newgrass and beyond – melding multiple genres after absorbing each of their boundaries – all towards extrapolating brave new musical worlds that can only be thought of as their own ‘creation’. Nothing less will do.