Dance of the Comedians
(Acoustics, 2007)

Live recordings are dangerous. Yes, the performance may go horribly wrong, but what I mean is that they can also be addictive to the fan -- and this is definitely one of the latter.

Simon Mayor has made the mandolin the "axe" of the new century. Here he is joined by his oft-time collaborator Hilary James along with Gerald Garcia and Richard Collins. This delightfully named group, the Mandolinquents, take us on a trip through fantasy land with mandolins, banjo, violin, guitar and mandobass -- a really weird looking "yoke" -- that makes great music.

As well as making the mandolin better known, they also introduce the general audience to classical pieces that we may be familiar enough with to hum but would never have a clue as to the titles. The opening track, "Pizzicato" is case in point.

There are also introductions to lesser-known pieces, such as Mayor's vocals on "The Song of India."

Everyone is familiar with that whimsical piece "The Typewriter" where the music mimics that ancient writing instrument at work -- although half of you probably don't know that sound.

As well as classical and operatic pieces, they bring us versions of traditional or folk classics like "Loch Lomond" and " Will You Come to the Bower." "Summer" is an intriguing piece based on a Chinese tune. The final track is a humorous piece called "The Spider in the Shed."

The possible bane of the live album is when you may tire of the patter between tracks. The Mandoliquents think of this, and the talk is on individual tracks for simple jump-overs.

Come here for the novelty, but you will stay for the great music.

review by
Nicky Rossiter

9 January 2009

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