Album Review of
Una Mas (One More): Finest Bluegrass Flavor

Written by Joe Ross
March 18, 2023 - 12:51pm EDT
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It’s been nearly 35 years since I wrote a feature article for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine about the growth of that genre of music in France (“Le Bluegrass Francais,” BU, December 1988). Jean Marie Redon was identified as “certainly the first serious five-string driver in France.” He was playing bluegrass in France as early as 1966, with bands such as The Bluegrass Connection and Bluegrass Long Distance (which toured the U.S in the mid-1970s). At the time of that article, Redon played with Stylix, worked for a music publishing company, authored some banjo instruction books and distributed records. He now plays a Nechville banjo. Read more about Jean-Marie here.

Spanish 5-string banjo-player Lluís Gómez is also an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, festival director, music teacher, world traveler, author and performer in various musical genres from bluegrass to swing, blues to folk, and gypsy jazz to celtic. While in France, he studied with Jean Marie Redon, and he now plays a Prucha banjo. Read more about Lluis here.  

What is quite exciting about the instrumental album Una Mas from Redon & Gómez is that they present their original bluegrass music with a distinctive and unique European flair even though they come from two different countries and represent two different generations. The delightful collaboration of these two stellar banjo players was embarked on with the support of several solid accompanists on guitar, bass, violin, cello, percussion and more. Jesper Rubner Petersen has some excellent creds in the European bluegrass scene, and Henrich Novák and his Dobro are certainly no strangers to bluegrass aficionados.  In the 1980s, he was a founding member of the newgrass group Fragment from the Slovak Republic. Their albums, performances and showcases earned them an invitation to play the Grand Ole Opry in 2002 and a 2004 Award as European Bluegrass Music Association (EBMA) Band of the Year.

For some familiarity, we hear Redon and Gómez cover Stephen Foster’s “Oh Susanna!” and an old-time medley of “Shove That Pig’s Foot (a little further into the fire)” and “Chinquapin Hunting.” A hard-driving breakdown, “Mr. Glubo” has plenty of spirit and even includes a short cello solo. Six of Redon’s compositions and two of Gómez’s originals showcase their sparkling styles full of passion and emotion. Between the album's opener with Gómez’s bouncy “Fugint de Barcelona” to the closing salvos of Redon’s solo “Mic,” the set is a very well balanced and entertaining collection of fresh music that conveys some fresh turns and spicy twists along the new acoustic trail they forge.

It’s nice to see the growth and appeal that bluegrass has experienced around the world, and these guys are treading on a musical path that will leave a delightful legacy of memorable music for future generations. Other standout tracks include “Up and Down,” “Hamadi,” and “El Perro Lluis and Jean Marie.”  You don’t have to be a banjo player to enjoy the musical rapport that Redon and Gómez share. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)