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Jamie Stillway: Mell of a Hess

On the fine Oregonian guitarist Jamie Stillway’s Mell of a Hess, the title’s word-playful linguistic deviation seems to reflect a larger musical identity. Mixing up genres without pretension, the nimble Stillway moves freely and with wit and creative restlessness, between the worlds of, say, Leo Kottke and Django Reinhardt, and connects with the brand of new folk-jazz hybrids like Tin Hat Trio and Jenny Scheinman’s projects.

Stillway has a way with waltz-time and variations, from the pleasant harmonic wanderings of the opener, “Domisomido”-fortified by bassist Tim Renner, mandolinist David Tiller and violinist Enion Pelta-to the quirky bittersweetness of “Space Shuttle Channel.” Stillway and Pelta bouncily traipse over the slightly samba-flecked groove of the title track, and Stillway suggests echoes of Kottke in the evocatively titled “March of the Drunken Flies” and John Fahey on “The Little Beggar.” But she has her own ideas cooking and evolving over the course of a fine record, inviting curiosity about a promising musical future.

Originally Published