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Coming February 10th, 2023

Justin Holland

America's First African-American Classical Guitarist

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Critically Acclaimed

Ken Meltzer


All the featured selections are lovely and engaging. Christopher Mallett is a superb interpreter, playing with a rich palette of instrumental colours, and beguiling phrasing. …These are charming works, splendidly performed, in a fine tribute to an influential American musician. © 2023 Fanfare

Al Kunze

Soundboard, September 2023

Christopher Mallett’s important disc featuring works composed or arranged by Justin Holland will upend one’s notions of Black contributions to the world of the guitar. Mallett’s technique and musicianship are unfailing and captured in perfect sound by Drew Henderson and William Coulter. 

David Pedrick

Minor 7th, August 2023

…Mallett’s resplendent tone and careful attention to phrasing are consistent throughout the program. …Mallet’s triumph in the disc’s closing piece, in terms of both technical precision and artistic interpretation, can be encapsulated more succinctly, and with a single word – perfection. © 2023 

Jim McCutcheon

American Record Guide, July 2023

Mallett performs each piece with technical and musical fluency, and with a strong sense of the style of the period. Original works by Holland include his Andante in C and his ‘Carnival of Venice’, both demonstrating his compositional competency as well as Mallett’s solid performance skills. Definitely recommended! 

Ron Schepper

Textura, July 2023

Even if one were to know nothing about Holland and the project’s background, one would still be won over by the collective charm of the songs, especially when they’re performed with such affection and eloquence by Mallett. The album also reminds us that nothing more than a single acoustic guitar is needed to hold a listener’s attention when the material and performer are as compelling as they are here.

Scott Cmiel

San Francisco Classical Voice, May 2023

Alternately stately and humorous, legato and staccato, chordal and ornately melodic, virtuosic and offhand, Mallett elegantly shows us all Holland and the 19th-century guitar have to offer. © 2023 San Francisco Classical Voice

Donald Rosenberg

Gramophone, May 2023

Mallett plays all of the fare with nuanced artistry, savouring the beloved melodies and bursts of decorative material. He shapes the 12 variations in the Carnival of Venice fantasy with lilting and bold assurance – an affectionate tribute to a musician who inspired generations of guitarists. © 


James Manheim, April 2023

Mallett’s performances are clean, and he resists the temptation to make more of the music than is there. …This release is essential for collections of 19th century American music and of music by African Americans, and it is of great general interest. © 2023 

Nate Chinen

WRTI 90.1, February 2023

What’s so rewarding about Justin Holland (1819–1887): Guitar Works and Arrangements is the way Mallett breathes life into the ledger lines, showing how that historical record can yet become an unfolding reality. He isn’t merely shining an overdue light on Holland’s singular achievements, but also reminding the rest of us how indebted we are to that legacy — and how beautifully it still moves today. 

Featuring Several World Premieres

Justin Holland was an African American, born free in Norfolk, Virginia. He was the most influential and important American guitarist of the 19th century and wrote the first published and best-selling guitar method in the country. He was also a leading voice in the anti-slavery and civil rights movements. As a composer he synthesized European models and embraced popular, church and parlor songs generating a rich variety of works. A master of virtuosic variations, his arrangements are witty, elegant, and colorful, and culminate in Carnival of Venice, which shows the full range of his gifts, sweeping in breadth and dazzling in effect.

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No. 14 on the Billboard Traditional Classical Charts


Recorded at the University of California, Santa Cruz

Produced and Engineered by William Coulter

Edited by Drew Henderson

Mastered by Sienna Digital

Cover Art by Keith Mallett

Liner Notes by Kim Perlak

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