In the world of rock music, “power trios” like Cream, ZZ Top, Rush and The Police have demonstrated the power of three.
In acoustic music, one only has to turn to the latest Andrew Collins Trio album, The Power Of Three to hear what can be accomplished. Lead by the versatile mandolin player, the group includes Mike Mezzatesta and James McEleney. Together they’ve won two Canadian Folk Music Awards for Instrumental Group of the Year.
While A Play On Words and And So It Goes showcased Andrew’s compositions and the group’s playing abilities, The Power Of Three gets its title from a different kind of collaboration between band mates.
“Mike showed me this part he had written, I learned it and then wrote a part for James to play, and then James wrote a part for Mike to play,” Andrew explained.
An important addition to The Power Of Three is the production work of David Travers-Smith. Until now Andrew has produced his own recordings.
“David was my engineering mentor,” Andrew said. “To me he’s the best of the best.”
Andrew wanted the new album to sound different from his previous albums, and so gave David free-rein to break whatever rules he wanted. To that end, David used electronic delays and other tricks to accomplish the task. On ‘Claire de Lune’, for example, David used a delay, which to Andrew’s ears, makes it sound like it’s resonating in a glass space.
“He’s the master at that,” Andrew said.
David was also the key to putting together the tune ‘Shelter In Place’.
“I wanted that one to be chaotic, and David really helped to build the chaos…like de-tuning the mandolin while I’m playing it!” Andrew said.
The inclusion of ‘Claire de Lune’ isn’t the first classical-type piece of music Andrew has recorded. But he approached it as a challenge to his arranging skills. After listening to a number of symphonic and string quartet arrangements, he problem-solved his way to make them work for a trio, including changing the melody when moving from mandolin to guitar.
Andrew Collins is a busy musician whose other projects have included The Foggy Hogtown Boys, The Creaking Tree String Quartet, his namesake trio and the latest group, The Tone Rangers, which includes current trio members James McEleney and Adam Shier, along with Chris Quinn.
“In this whole bluegrass community, everybody’s been quite busy with multiple projects,” Andrew said. “The way we make it work is, if you’re committed to a date, you don’t re-schedule because something better comes along.”
The non-performing side of Andrew’s life is almost as busy as the performing side. He’s produced and engineered albums for other artists, along with doing video production.
“When I get into something, I really get into it,” he said “It’s curiosity and fun, and I really strive to be good at these things so I work really hard and obsess over details.”
What these other talents have provided for Andrew is the ability to not be totally dependent on touring to create an income.
“It’s hard to have a life balance, so having these other things allows me to not have to be on the road all the time,” he said.
But it’s an exciting new project that will take Andrew back on the road this year. He’s teaming up with Joe Crave for a tribute show highlighting the music Jerry Garcia and David Grisman created in the 1990s.
“Joe played on the original Jerry Gracia/David Grisman album, so I’m learning all these mandolin parts to pretend I’m Grisman!” he said.
For more on the Andrew Collins Trio and The Power Of Three, go to http://www.andrewcollinstrio.com.