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In the Maze

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Album Review

Jam band aficionados will recognize banjoist Noam Pikelny as a former member of Colorado legends Leftover Salmon. On his solo debut he continues to explore the jazzy side of acoustic music, teaming up with mandolinist Matt Flinner, guitarist David Grier, fiddler Gabe Witcher, and bassist Todd Phillips to deliver a solid set of original compositions that constantly meander back and forth across the boundary lines that separate jazz, bluegrass, and folk music. Unsurprisingly, given that he's a former student of both Béla Fleck and Mark Vann, Pikelny's playing style is melodic rather than traditional, but many of his compositions — especially "Speed Bump" and the lovely "Overland" — hark back explicitly to the good old days of traditional bluegrass breakdowns, while others (notably the deliriously complex and beautiful "Manchicken") split the difference between tradition and innovation, and still others (like the title track) trade speed and energy for a contemplative lyricism. The two tracks that are not Pikelny compositions (Ross Martin's "Flight of the Green Chair" and Greg Garrison's "Charlie's Song") are both perfectly nice, but not as noteworthy as his own compositions. Overall, this is a very impressive debut from a young but already well-established solo artist. Recommended.

Customer Reviews

pick it bro

great find!! i recall hearing noam jamming with yonder mountain at a show a long time ago and have not kept up with his solo work since leftover was no more. glad to find this music. it seems to be arranged well and his talent speaks for itself. you sure can tell he spent some time pickin with bela. overland and manchicken are definitely worth checking out.


Really enoyable to listen to all the way through. I especially like the slower more melodic pieces like "in the maze." It strays from the typical constant 16th note lines that banjos so often seem to have. Very well done!


Genre: Bluegrass

Years Active: '00s, '10s

A virtuoso five-string banjo player, Noam Pikelny was born February 27, 1981 in Chicago, Illinois. His childhood, he has said lightheartedly, was split between the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field and the Old Town School of Folk Music. He was already playing in traditional bluegrass bands while he was in high school, and went on to study music at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, after which he moved to Boulder, Colorado. He joined the Colorado ensemble Leftover Salmon in 2002 (he remained...
Full Bio
In the Maze, Noam Pikelny
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  • $9.90
  • Genres: Rock, Music
  • Released: Jul 19, 2004

Customer Ratings