Mike Marshall and Darol Anger were in the early David Grisman bands that expanded the scope of acoustic music. Woodshop reunites these pioneers, who are among the most cerebral players in modern acoustic music. They don’t go for flash; their original compositions, such as the Marshall tune “Peter Pan,” display a synthesis of European form with third-world rhythms, with strong contrapuntal structures balanced by Latin and jazz rhythmic influences. Anger’s composition “Who Had Whom” begins with a modal quote from “Norwegian Wood” before going off into uncharted territory. As with most of the tunes on Woodshop this isn’t the sort of song you can hum along with easily, but you can feel the effortless flow and intrinsic musical logic behind its rhythmic and melodic gyrations.
Woodshop demonstrates the scope of this duo’s virtuosity. Marshall plays mandolin, mandocello, steel-string, nylon-string, and banjo guitar. Anger restricts himself to violin and cello. On a few cuts, they’re joined by Todd Sickafoose or Todd Phillips on acoustic bass, Michael Manring on electric bass, Phil Aaberg on piano, and Arron Johnston on percussion.
If you enjoy new acoustic music Woodshop deserves to be in your music library. It combines lyrical music with virtuoso performances by two contemporary masters at the top of their game.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Sep ’07 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.