On Cats And Dogs, Ontario’s Andrew Collins delivers 11 original and often delightful bluegrass, classical, and jazz instrumentals working in small ensembles with a variety of talented friends. Collins’ second solo outing, following Little Widgets that earned him a Canadian Folk Music award for Pushing The Boundaries in 2006, Cats And Dogs is Juno Award nominated for Best Instrumental Release of 2012.
One of the most accomplished young string band artists, Collins plays with the old-time and bluegrass ensemble Foggy Hogtown Boys and the acclaimed modern string band, Creaking Tree String Quartet, which has earned four Juno nominations. Collins is now fronting his own trio with Mike Mezzatesta on mandos, guitar, and fiddle and James McEleney on upright bass.
Although Cats And Dogs offers musical breadth—a vibraphone mandolin duet for example—Collins serves up three strong pieces clearly within the bluegrass spectrum. “Back Burner” is an aptly named 1:45 of drive, featuring Chris Quinn’s banjo, that deserves serious airplay. “Corkscrew Road” comes right out of the fiddle tune adapted to bluegrass tradition. Chris Coole plays the five-string on it, as well as on the medium tempo “David Blake.” “Dark Matter” with its mandolin/reso-guitar interplay, the triple fiddle “Spider Cat,” “Farewell My Old Friend,” and “High Falutin” each fit in with bluegrass music, even if outside a technical definition, and could be played at the most traditional festivals. (www.sytesounds.com.)AM