Review ...

Banjoist at large -- Peter Mezoian
Recorded in 1986

Banjo Encore -- Peter Mezoian
Recorded in 1995

I became aware of Peter in the early Eighties when he was a young lad around the age of 15. He would show up at the banjo bashes in the New England area brought there by his mom. What attracted my attention to him was his banjo. It was an early 30's Vega Vox II with an arm rest mute. I had, at that time, a Vega Vox IV, also with an arm rest mute, but some of my mute parts were missing. I know what you are thinking -- I wanted to con the kid out of his mute assembly. NO. NO. NO! I just wanted to look inside his banjo, now upgraded to a Vega Vox # Who Knows What -- He still has that banjo and I sold mine years ago. Oh, well.

Peter started with the banjo because he admired actor/comedian Steve Martin. In his early show biz years, Martin would appear on TV in a white suit playing a 5-string banjo. For Peter, the white suit was easy, but the only banjo teacher Peter could find taught plectrum, so fortunately for us, Peter went with the 4-string plectrum. The rest is history, as they say in the business. Peter is now a full-time Banjo Entertainer appearing mostly on cruise ships.

His first album, BANJOIST AT LARGE, was recorded in 1986 when he was 19. When I first heard it, I was amazed at his smooth, flawless delivery and innovative arrangements. I remember thinking, "If I could play like that, I could die a happy man." I would "play along" with the tape to some of the tunes, especially STRIKE UP THE BAND. Other tunes on the tape are: ALABAMY BOUND, ALL BY MYSELF, THE MAN I LOVE, SWEET AND LOVELY, BABY FACE, FOUR LEAF CLOVER, LADY OF SPAIN, ST. LOUIS BLUES, ROBT E. LEE, WHEN DAY IS DONE, CARAVAN, AT SUNDOWN, LINGER AWHILE HUNGARIAN DANCE #5, MEMORY, JEALOUSY and SWEET GEORGIA BROWN.

Every one of these selections is played with Peter's flawless light touch and are truly amazing. Don't miss this one. Read on for ordering info.

Now we will move up in time from 1986 and his first album to 1995 and his second album, BANJO ENCORE. Every recording I listen to played by other artists is recognizable no matter what tune is played because the STYLE is the same. Even if it's Peabody or Reser, you can identify the player because you identify the STYLE. Not so with Peter. He has mastered a vast number of STYLES. A word I use for the lack of a better one and he demonstrates many of them on BANJO ENCORE.

Many of the tunes on BANJO ENCORE are standard "banjo" songs such as ALABAMA JUBILEE, BLACK AND BLUE, ME AND MY SHADOW and DOWN YONDER (done with a lot of Bluegrass Style) and a standard Waltz medley. The rest of the tunes are ones that you don't hear on the banjo very often: SING SING SING, BRAZIL, MANDY, PERFIDIA, GREEN EYES, PUPPET ON A STRING, RECUERDOS DE LA ALHAMBRA, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, THE WAY YOU LOOK TONIGHT, KISS OF FIRE, NOTHING CAN STOP ME NOW, ZING WENT THE STRINGS OF MY HEART, MISERLOU, FLIGHT OF THE BUMBLE BEE, FIREFLY and BEST OF TIMES.

BANJO ENCORE is also an absolute winner.

--Allan Doxsee

[Editor's note: This was the last review submitted by Allan Doxsee. Allan passed away on April 14, 1999.]

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