Welcome to the world of Butch Baldassari and John Carlini, a place where acoustic string virtuosity and wide-ranging musical influences merge and diverge to create haunting aural images at once familiar and brilliantly explorational. Imagine Bill Monroe's hardscrabble roadhouse mandolin exploring both the uptown vistas of George Gershwin's elegant and romantic melodic sophistication, and the downtown modal improvisations of John Coltrane for a sense of the possibilities explored here. Reflections is filled with that kind of juxtaposition, where musical worlds collide to create their own unique planetary systems operating on rules of harmonic physics that should be contradictory, but in fact emerge as logical and elegant equations that reveal our musical common denominators.
The soloists here both have made indelible marks on today's propulsive and energetic acoustic music scene. John Carlini has been the man behind the curtain of the New Acoustic pyrotechnics, involved in everything from helping flatpicking legend Tony Rice absorb the jazz theory needed to energize his evocative playing to another level, to helping arrange and coordinate the ensemble playing of groups ranging from the David Grisman Quintet to the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble.
The latter association brought him into contact with Butch Baldassari, who in addition to being one of the true keepers of the Monroe-style bluegrass mandolin flame, has branched out to explore everything from turn-of-the-century mandolin orchestra performance pieces, Appalachian fiddle music, and his own brand of brilliant original acoustic string music.