By Justin Davidson
Some years ago, the phenomenal bassist Edgar Meyer interrupted an interview to go on a rhapsodic digression about a young composer and mandolin player who could deliver Bach better than anyone he had ever heard, and who, by the way, was also one of the key figures in a bluegrass revival. Some time later, I stopped in to see Bob Hurwitz, president of Nonesuch Records, who sat me down, swore me to secrecy, and turned on his stereo. I think the gag rule can now be lifted because the subject of both Meyer's and Hurwitz's enthusiasm was Chris Thile, sometime member of Nickel Creek, and now allied with the Punch Brothers for their debut Nonesuch album, Punch. It's ambitious stuff, and Russell Platt has the word:
The central piece is Thile’s “The Blind Leaving the Blind,” a forty-minute, multi-movement fantasy that mixes the core sounds of bluegrass with jazz improvisations, Bach-style toccatas, Baroque “lamento” bass lines, whole-tone harmonies, and a couple of Straussian melodic swoons.