Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine Review

You could argue convincingly that John Carlini and Tony Rice invented new acoustic guitar. In the early 1970's, Rice had just joined David Grisman's progressive instrument quintet, and Carlini was called in as "musical director" to help develop arrangements for the band and work with the members to enhance their ability to play such demanding music.

Carlini and Rice worked closely to mold Tony's already formidable flatpicking technique into something never before heard, an amalgam of bluegrass, jazz, and folk that continues to set the standard for brilliant acoustic guitar flatpicking.

Friends ever since, Rice and Carlini have always wanted to record together, but it wasn't until recently they got the chance. Recorded in the living room of Rice's since-destroyed home in Florida, "River Suite For Two Guitars" is the guitar album Rice's legion of fans has waited years to hear.

Taking great songs from Tony's past, jazz and pop standards, as well as new original tunes from both Rice and Carlini, this CD shimmers with brilliant, evocative guitar playing that will dazzle anyone who loves the sound of flatpicked guitar.

What marks this CD is the growth and maturity Rice displays. Hearing him play the same melodies he first explored two decades ago, you can hear how his musical growth enables him to pursue new musical ideas or approach certain passages with a greater sophistication. Listen to his work on his classic "Devlin", then go back to hear how he played it on Grisman's "Hot Dawg" or his own "Still Inside" and hear how much more confidently he approaches the song today. Passages he previously rushed through now flow gracefully off the fingerboard, and he stretches out and takes chances where before, his approach would have been more straightforward.

The revelation for many guitarists on this CD will be Carlini...a gifted flatpicker who wrings a warm, emotional tone from the instrument, (he) combines a great expanse of technical musical knowledge with the ability to let his emotions direct the feel and flow of his solos. Carlini plays both backup accompanist and soloist with confidence. The CD is filled with superb musical moments where Carlini gives up the limelight to let the music take precedence or to play a perfect harmony part with his musical partner.

"River Suite" is a must have for anyone who loves the sound of progressive acoustic flatpicked guitar. This is the work of two supremely talented musicians, joining forces not to out-duel each other but to produce great guitar music.
Highly recommended.