Donate to the Grapevine

Express your thanks by leaving the pirate a tip!

June 18, 2009

Jimmy Gaudreau - The Gaudreau Mandolin Album

Biography by Eugene Chadbourne

For a guy who picked up mandolin quite casually, thinking of himself as a guitarist for the longest time, Jimmy Gaudreau has accomplished giant things with the little instrument. Although many of his credentials point quite rightly to an interest in progressive bluegrass, he has also trilled his way in and out of many classic traditional bluegrass outfits, including one of the very best, the Country Gentlemen.

In the '60s, Gaudreau was just another teenager trying to learn to play rock guitar. When he became interested in the mandolin, he continued to play with many of the same fingering techniques as he had learned on the guitar. He was never particularly interested in learning the so-called "right" way of doing anything on the instrument, let alone following the course of many budding bluegrass novices and begin memorizing by rote all the standard moves of players such as Bill Monroe and Jethro Burns. An individual and unique stylist from his very first appearances with the Country Gentlemen in the late '60s, Gaudreau is in fact credited with inventing the humorous concept of "the bluegrass police." This term is a derisive description of listeners who think everything can only be done a certain way, whatever they happen to think that is. Gaudreau's allegiance to his own heart and mind has won him a proud place in some fantastic bluegrass outfits over more than three decades of picking. He has also become an advocate for electric mandolin, to no one's surprise considering his generation and outlook, and has also performed on the modern five-string version of that instrument. He joined the Country Gentlemen in 1969 and although it was early in his career, it was a move that attracted quite a bit of attention to him as he was replacing the well-loved mandolinist John Duffey. This group, under the leadership of Charlie Waller, continued to perform in early 2000, and since 1981 Gaudreau has rejoined as mandolinist off and on.

His activities in between these two stints with that band include alliances with bands that have made bluegrass history. For 11 years, he was a member of the Tony Rice Unit, recording several superb albums. Another progressive bluegrass outfit that was just as much well-loved was J.D. Crowe & the New South, bringing him together with the late, much missed, and influential bluegrass and country singer Keith Whitley, as well as with hot pickers Bobby Slone and Steve Bryant. One of the best recordings of this group in action was entitled Live in Japan and was released in 1982 on the Rounder label. From 1979 through 1981, Gaudreau was a member of Spectrum with banjoist Béla Fleck, bassist Mark Schatz, and other players. With a name more like a fusion jazz group than a bluegrass band, this group's music was enough to make the bluegrass police call the real police. Throughout he kept up collaborations with more traditional players, such as the First Generation project which brought him together with hardball banjo picker Don Stover.

The '90s continued as a time of new formations, sometimes involving old faces. An existing trio, featuring Dobro player Mike Auldridge, bassist T. Michael Coleman, and guitarist Larry Moondi Klein, called itself Chesapeake but was a much more casual, on and off again type of band until the mandolinist was brought in as a fourth member. The ensuing sparks have led to a dynamic career for this ensemble, which has stolen the show at many bluegrass festivals. Out of the Chesapeake experience has come a co-operative trio with Auldridge, Gaudreau, and guitarist Richard Bennett. This trio hasn't bothered with a name at all other than the players simply using their own. This group has released two CDs, the most recent entitled Blue Lonesome Wind, a 2001 release on the Rebel label. In 1994, Gaudreau put on a producer's hat to create Young Mando Monsters, a get together involving four ambitious, feisty pickers, including Ronnie McCoury and Alan Bibey. In terms of recordings, there is no shortage of material by any of the various bands this player has been part of, but one album that is often picked as his most accomplished is entitled The Mandolin Album and was released on Puritan records.

Jimmy Gaudreau - The Gaudreau Mandolin Album

Year: 1978
Label: Puritan Records

Review by Eugene Chadbourne

Small as its fingerboard is and played most often by trilling with a pick at high speed, the mandolin is a natural for playing fast as well as having a particularly lovely tone and an ability to ring out and fill in the spaces around other instruments. These features have helped make it a standard item in a bluegrass band, but when the instrument takes the lead in the hands of a player as accomplished as this man is, then listeners are entering a whole new world. From the title, one can assume mandolinist Jimmy Gaudreau is trying to make some kind of all-encompassing statement about what he is able to do on his instrument. It is an ambitious effort, including material that could and definitely has sunk many a lesser player. Just about everything comes off beautifully; in fact, one would have to be trying to pick a fight with mandolinists in order to make much criticism of any of the proceedings here, which include everything from straight-ahead bluegrass to Bach to the "New Camptown Races," which is given a treatment so refreshing that the artist has a perfect right to claim it as his own. Banjoist J.D. Crowe, no slouch in any setting, gets pretty inspired here. There is also tasty use of percussion, unusual for this type of session.

Liner notes:
"I will dispense with the usual polite and mushy comments often found on album liners and get to the point. In my opinion, Jimmy Gaudreau is one of the finest mandolin players in the business today. He has adapted several unique licks to the mandolin that can be called his own. In watching him perform anyone can tell that a lot of heavy concentration and thought go into his playing. I belieive that most mandolin players should find some licks they would like to learn, that is, if they can handle them!"
- John Duffey

When it was announced in 1969 that Jimmy Gaudreau would replace John Duffey in the Country Gentlemen, thousands of bluegrass fans hollered, "Who?" That an unknown (a Yankee from Rhode Island, yet!) would be hired to replace a key member of the world's most beloved bluegrass band was unthinkable!

There was little reason to worry. Not only did Jimmy's tenor blend perfectly with Charlie Waller and Eddie Adcock, but his quick, sprightly mandolin style excited audiences everywhere. Since his debut with the Gentlemen, Jimmy has brought his unique sound to the original II Generation, his own Country Store, and most recently to the hottest band in bluegrass - J.D. Crowe and the New South.

It took Jimmy five years to put together an album the way he wanted it. From the wilds of Maine he brought in his teacher, Fred Pike. Guitarist Glenn Lawson was available, and New Southerners J.D. Crowe and Bobby Slone were recruited to help out here and there. The result produced a little jazz, a bit of modern country and rock and roll, a classical virtuoso piece, and a lot of solid, hard-core bluegrass!

1 Alabama Jubilee
2 Patrick's Hornpipe
3 Fireball
4 A Maiden's Prayer
5 Blackberry Rag
6 Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring
7 New Camptown Races
8 Last Date
9 Swarmin'
10 Eight More Miles to Louisville
11 Edsel's Tailpipe
12 Memphis Mandolin

you oughta see deacon jones.
from vinyl | mp3 224kbps | w/ covers | 48mb

*out of print*
for yotte

1 comment:

yotte said...

Wow. THANKS!! Boy, this guy has been all over the place, hasn't he? It always amazes me when I first learn of someone that has been spinning around all the folks I've known and loved for so long. Don't know how I've missed him! I'm D/L'ing it while I'm typing... can't wait to give this a listen. Thanks again, Irate Pirate, very kind of you.