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jeff jammin

 

Partners in Time

Review from Nov. 2006 Dirty Linen 

Jeff Midkiff may not be on the tip of every bluegrass enthusiast's tongue, but Lonesome River Band devotees may remember the mandolinist's five-year stint during the 80s.

He’s always had a paradoxical double identity, bouncing between academia and bluegrass and back again, and eventually he earned a master’s degree in clarinet performance. In the late 90s, bluegrass’ prodigal son ventured home again, this time as a member of the Schankman Twins.

Though his deft instrumental debut is hardly for the faint of heart, Midkiff's genre-spanning versatility rivals anything waxed be those big dogs of newgrass.Though his deft instrumental debut is hardly for the faint of heart, Midkiff’s genre-spanning versatility rivals anything waxed be those big dogs of newgrass. He ably alternates between mandolin and fiddle to spryly swing “Lady Be Good,” succumbs to the drowsy heat of “Summertime,” and breezes through the Celtic-flavored “Monroe’s Hornpipe” until the tune’s last hurrah, where the pace progressively accelerates.

While it would have been easy to play it safe with time-honored chestnuts, Midkiff unveils six ambitious originals, ranging from an entrancing “Funk Tango” to a Moorish impressionistic sketch of “Alhambra” and a straight-ahead cruise of “Grey Hawk.” “A Visit From The Muse” resembles a forgotten Russian Melody. The title song aggressively stretches across myriad key signatures and syncopated timing.

Not only is Midkiff a sparkling, accurate picker, Schankman guitar alum Curtis Jones provides many a dazzling flat-picked solo. A big bark from a little dog.

—Dan Willging, Dirty Linen #126 - October/November 2006