Following the success of 1994’s album with Tony Rice, Tone Poems II finds mandolinist David Grisman paired with Scottish guitarist Martin Taylor, performing duets on vintage instruments. The album showcases the music of the Jazz Age and therefore features archtop guitars along with various instruments from the mandolin family as it presents a musical time line both in terms of the material covered and the instruments played. The CD opens with George Gershwin’s 1919 composition “Swanee” recorded with a quartet of period Gibsons, then continues chronologically with material including Nick Lucas’ “Teasin’ the Frets,” Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” and Taylor’s original “Musette for a Magpie,” each tune performed on a different set of instruments. The disc concludes with Chick Corea’s “Crystal Silence” played on a guitar and mandolin built by Islip, N.Y., luthier John Monteleone. Like all of Acoustic Disc’s releases, the sound quality is exceptional, and the label’s commitment to sonic accuracy makes the instruments the stars of the recording as much as Grisman and Taylor. The 46-page booklet offers detailed photos as well as the instruments’ history. Like the first Tone Poems album, this disc succeeds in contextualizing the relationship between instrument design and musical performance, and suggests how an advance in one area brings about transformation in the other. Although this album is subtitled The Sounds of the Great Jazz Guitars, Mandolins, Mandolas, & Mandocellos, it will likely be found with Grisman’s folk and bluegrass recordings. Grisman and Taylor play jazz standards, but their performances are not always rooted in the jazz idiom. The result is an album that will be praised by folkies and acoustic-instrument enthusiasts, but met with suspicion by jazz guitarists.CP

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