Bluegrass Unlimited - Jimmy Gadreau - Bits And PiecesJIMMY GAUDREAU
Goose Creek Music
No Number

“Noodlin’” is the first track on Jimmy Gaudreau’s new recording Bits And Pieces, and the tune is just that—Gaudreau seemingly playing at random on the mandolin. At first, that seems an odd choice for an opener, but as Jimmy says in the notes: “For me, it all starts with noodlin’.” Taken that way, it becomes an inspired start, though perhaps not a track you’ll return to again and again. It is, however, only a minute long, so who knows?

The other 16 instrumentals here are a different matter. Most of those bear repeating and often. There, you’ll find Gaudreau blending styles and making musical references by the handful. Some of them are reworkings of older tunes. “New Home Sweet Home,” for example, takes that old chestnut and restructures the melody (though it is still in there) and gives it a light calypso-like rhythm. “Joe’s Old Clock” reworks “Old Joe Clark,” while “Just That Simple” hints at “Leather Britches.” Both keep to the fiddle-tune style.

Other tunes, such as “Jesse And Don” and “Edsel’s Tailpipe” incorporate touches of playing from Gaudeau’s heroes and influences. “Jesse And Don” throws together Jesse McReynolds’ crosspicking and Don Rich’s Bakersfield guitar in an inspired and all too short track. If you don’t know Don Rich’s style by name, you’ll know it when you hear it—think Buck Owens. “Edsel’s Tailpipe” on the other hand is what happens when bluegrassers meet the surf set. The result is a medium stomp with overtones of The Ventures. It would be the album favorite if it weren’t for the lovely “Florentine Waltz” (3:11 of tremolo with sinuous fiddle support) and Hot Club stylings of “El Doggo,” which features excellent banjo from Jens Krüger and jazz guitar from Frank Vignola.

If I have one complaint, it is that the pieces are often too short. Six truly are “bits” of barely a minute long, and only two top three minutes. Of course, as they say, always leave them wanting more. (Goose Creek Music, 17723 Tranquility Rd., Purcellville, VA 20132, BW