Matt Flinner (mandolin) showed up in Felton, Ca. at Don Quixote’s Music Hall on Thursday night with his excellent stablemates Scott Nygaard (guitar) and Sam Bevan (bass). The place was packed with acoustic jazz, bluegrass, spacegrass, ,psychograss, and just plain …..grass music fans. It’s rare to hear the kind of music that Matt Flinner plays.. Now and again we are graced with talents like Tony Rice, John Reischman, David Grisman, Joe Craven, David Greer, Todd Phillips, and Mark O’Conner here in the Santa Cruz area. Fans of these great players were in abundance Thursday night because they know just how good Matt Flinner really is. Having Scott Nygaard and Sam Bevan as his conversational partners made for the kind of interaction that truly defines jazz.
Right out of the gate we were treated to the sonic excellence Matt is known for. These boys know how to converse, and how to keep their sound and instruments in a perfect balance… and it helps that they are playing some of the finest acoustic instruments ever made. Matt plays a Steve Gilchrist mandolin that is about as close to a Gibson Loar as you will ever hear… maybe better. Scott was playing a fine Collings Dreadnaught guitar with tremendous tone. Scott’s musical vocabulary is extensive, covering everything from jazz, to bluegrass, to traditional, and beyond. The ideas never stop flowing… he is one smart and articulate guitarist and a joy to behold. Blazing fast runs that make sense musically, with an ever present richness of tone that you just can’t get enough of. Sam played outstanding acoustic bass. His highly percussive style really drove the trio and his solos were interesting, lively, and powerful. His scat singing was another fun twist. He is an extremely talented and fun bass player… no wonder he plays with
They covered a lot of ground rolling out a hot rendition of Caravan…. extended solos, trading 4’s, harmony riffing, all in an exciting and stirring style. Another standout was a Bill Monroe tune called “Bluegrass Special”… just reminding us that they can play straight bluegrass as well as anyone alive.. They closed the show out with Matt’s masterpiece called “Paint It Shut”. It’s a fantastic piece of songwriting written to allow a high degree of instrumental conversation and interaction. It’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in this genre. The boys deserved and got several standing ovations and they came back for two encores. They delivered the goods, that’s for sure. Just one criticism though, hey Matt, tuck your shirt in would ya? (just kidding). Thanks for a marvelous show…!
Written by Ron Clegg
Photographs by Ron Clegg—– copyright 2008