Noam Pikelny, In The Maze

Jon Weisberger

By Jon Weisberger

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

In The Maze

Noam Pikelny
Excursions to the fringes of bluegrass.

Wander out to the fringes of bluegrass, and you're bound to run into Noam Pikelny, a talented young banjo player whose ferocious virtuosity and dazzling creativity are offset by musical wit and a wry sense of humor. For his 2004 debut, Pikelny turned to a crafty selection of players: edgy mandolinist Matt Flinner and his frequent musical partner, bassist Todd Phillips, wide-ranging fiddler Stuart Duncan and under-appreciated guitarist David Grier, whose quirky sensibility is perfectly suited to the album's collection of airy tunes. Using bluegrass instrumentation and a musical vocabulary drawn from, but not limited to, the bluegrass bag of licks, Pikelny and his crew mingle jazz, new age and "newgrass" influences to create absorbing excursions into unexpected — and delightful — musical worlds. In the Maze isn't the future of bluegrass, but it points the way toward one important aspect of things to come.