In JLP the Banjo Mechanics explore the proverbial 5-stringed instrument beyond the canon of conventional playing styles such old time clawhammer, Celtic, and Scruggs-style bluegrass. Their innovative original compositions explore the potential and beauty of an instrument that has it's origins in the shadows of global pre-history.
With the express aim of reintroducing the concept of stylistic diversity to the banjo world, JLP is one of the few albums comprised of live-performances by only two banjo players. This unique album takes its name from the initials of Pattison’s mother, who once asked young Ian to play her one of his own tunes. At that time his repertoire consisted entirely of banjo "standards." His inability to fulfill his mother's simple request spurred him to begin composing his own songs.
In 1995 he begin collaborating with Lewis Melville, a banjoist infamous for contributing banjo tracks to albums by alt-pop and rock bands such as the barenaked ladies, 13 Engines, the Rheostatics, Skydiggers, and the Cowboy Junkies. After contributing banjo compositions to various compilation albums by the legendary record label DROG, Ian and Lewis released their first solo record on Barcode Free Music in September of 2014.
One plays high, one plays low, and between them Banjo Mechanics - Lewis Melville and Ian Pattison of Wellington Country, ON - perform JLP, an album of delightfully fresh banjo compositions. The album features neither dueling banjo or old-timey banjo style but a sparkly, folksy sound that will put you in the mood for sitting in front of a fireplace with a mug of cocoa in hand, feet resting on a cushion. It's laid back playing that's also intricate and bounces around on your synapses inn a most engaging fashion. Switching back and forth between melody lines and harmonies, the duo perform convincingly on banjos made by Pattison in his instrument-making studio, Pattison Stringed Instruments. The album was recorded live at the Sound emporium in Guelph, ON. It's difficult to pick a favourite on this 12-track album because each track makes you want to choose it when it comes up for a spin. Let's just say that if you enjoy banjo music, you'll find this album warm and compelling. There's an instrumental purity about it that side-steps the contemporary trend toward overproduced albums. JLP is simply two banjos played honestly and played well. (Gene Wilburn, Penguin Eggs, Summer 2015)
Great Project! (Kenneth Berrier, Radio Host at The Grass You Love)
Banjo instrumental duets, which are occasionally trance-like and ambient, and include some improvisation; I can imagine some of these pieces on a movie soundtrack. I was especially taken by the delicacy of the melodies of both the title cut (JLP) and Tying Up The Bamboo. Both players seem to have eclectic roots... (Banjo Newsletter Vol XLII, No. 7)
...yes that album has some nice things for sure on it! (John Mceuen)
Wow! That is an entirely different banjo sound. This is maybe even a new genre entirely. I’ve never heard anything quite like that before, and I listen to A LOT of banjo music. I’m blown away. On the Banjo Mechanics stuff I love the way each banjo voice is unique, clear, and blend so beautifully – even on my computer speakers. It’s a revelation in harmonic possibilities for the banjo. Bit of a Jig is something else entirely. I’d have to describe the melody or the arrangement as mid career Beatle-esque, but it’s so much more. Love it. I love it! .....this email stands on its own as praise for your musicianship, and perhaps your recording techniques! I can hear everything so clearly defined. (Brent Kornblum, BanjoHangout)