Andrew Collins Trio

Andrew Collins Trio (ON)

To call Toronto’s Andrew Collins a master of the mandolin would be putting it mildly. Collins’ strength as a composer, especially of artfully arranged string music perhaps best described as “chamber grass,” shines through in the trio format. He’s a prolific and robust performer, comfortable on mandolin, fiddle, guitar, mandola, and mandocello, who composes, produces, arranges, writes, and teaches across multiple genres, including a popular collision of folk, jazz, bluegrass, Celtic, and classical. He’s garnered four Juno nominations and won seven Canadian Folk Awards with his various ensembles.

Andrew Collins’ trio is rounded out by Mike Mezzatesta (mandolin, guitar, fiddle) and James McEleney (bass, mandocello), musicians with versatility to match his own. Showcasing a dizzying number of styles and instruments on stage, Collins and co. appear to live by the old adage, “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop,” likely keeping them just ahead of his grasp. Bending and blending genres, these musical shapeshifters land somewhere between the re-imagined worlds of Béla Fleck and Newgrass invader David Grisman.

Their latest double-album, 2018’s Tongue & Groove, grafts 11 vocal cuts (tongues) with 11 instrumentals (grooves) to create a seamless finish. Each cut is milled to perfection and represents a back-to-basics visitation on what the band does best: spontaneity of the stage and rapid-fire, improvisational exchanges.