Periodically, I'd like to talk about important "must have" recordings for the mandolin enthusiast here at The Mandolin Player, which we will call the Mandolin Canon. As this involves mostly my opinion as to these choices, I'm sure there are plenty of recordings that have been made over the years that I might overlook and if any of you know of a great recording that you can't imagine living without, then send me a note or comment below. Who knows, it might end up in the Canon as well.
For the first one, I can't really think of a better player to begin this series with than John Reischman and the recording he made with guitarist John Miller, Bumpy Road. This was released back in 2002 on Reischman's own label, Corvus Records. The two Johns have made three records together, the earliest was The Singing Moon in 1998 and the latest was Road Trip in 2013. Though all three are worth getting, Bumpy Road is my personal favorite.
Bumpy Road is the one that finds it way into my CD player most often. It hits the sweet spot for me, showing Reischman at his best and most inventive playing with Miller laying down a solid back-up accompaniment on his Martin guitar. The emphasis from Reischman is on the melody and in doing that he focuses on the tone, for which he is justifiably known. The recording quality is clean and rich and shows off each instrument at their best. The music leans toward Latin Jazz and Celtic tunes, along with some original tunes from these two Johns. Also, there is one song on the CD, a Celtic song called "The Path Downhill," sung by Koralee Tonack, but it also contains one of Reischman's best solos in his career. It is so beautiful and bittersweet. This is what I think of when I think of John Reischman.
If you want to learn more about John Reischman as a mandolin player, this is a great place to start. Of course, he has done more bluegrass inspired recordings and we will eventually get to those, but Bumpy Road is as good as it gets and that is why it deserves to be a part of The Mandolin Canon.
John Reischman & John Miller, Bumpy Road, Corvus Records, CR009 (2002)