Don Julin with Ron Getz - Mr. Natural
Reviewed by David McCarty
There's been a tremendous upsurge in pure jazz on the mandolin in recent years, with brilliant jazz artists like Don Stiernberg, Paul Glasse and others taking up the jazz mandolin path pioneered by Jethro Burns.
Now into that spotlight steps an exceptionally talented musician named Don Julin, who brings a lyric sense of swing and elegant melodicism to his debut CD, Mr. Natural. Like a great jazz trumpeter, never is a note wasted in Don Julin's playing.
There's a reason each one falls where it does, leading like a jazz waterfall to the next and the next. He coaxes lush, round notes from his oval-hole Gibson A-model mandolin, reveling in the clean, clear tone he generates.
The tunes here reveal a strength of musical integrity and skill, never delving to the flashy or profane. Just hear his fluid introduction to Days of Wine and Roses or his understated reading of Black Orpheus for a classic lesson in creating endearing and enduring music on mandolin.
In Julin's hands, a simplistic pop tune like Eric Clapton's Tears In Heaven becomes an eloquent poem of tones, while trumpet legend Freddie Hubbard's Up Jumped Spring shows surprising strength as a stringed instrument standard.
Don's musical mates here ably assist his creative efforts, with guitarist Ron Getz earning very high marks for his easy-handed nylon string guitar style. Dave Wall presents just the right touch of percussion, and bassists Dave Hay and Glenn Wolff provide all the support any soloist could desire.
Mr. Natural sounds like the work of a seasoned jazz pro, not the debut offering of a little-known musician from the cold northern end of Michigan. If you enjoy acoustic jazz, make this CD a must-hear addition to your collection. (Don Julin, 2913 Concord, Travers City, MI, 49684, 231-929-1761)
Song List: Drone, Triste, Days of Wine and Roses, Mr. Natural, Tears in Heaven, Up Jumped Spring, Secret Love, Black Orpheus, South Carolina Blues, Peace.