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(540) 745-2001 • info@countysales.com

BUTCH BALDASSARI TRIO 'American Portraits'

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Mandolinist Baldassari is known for his excellent traditional picking (he has had superb recordings on both Rebel and Pinecastle, plus a good recent record on his own label). He is also known for his modern & experimental work with ensembles of various sizes & styles, some of which has been of little interest to the Bluegrass market. Here in this package we get some of both, but we can recommend it without qualification as it is all beautifully & tastefully done. Butch is joined by Gene Ford on guitar and John Hedgecoth on mandocello for a mixed program of 11 instrumentals. The album would be worth the price for most fans of Bluegrass mandolin for just 4 pieces: HONKY GRASS STOMP (a neat combination of Monroe's BLUEGRASS STOMP and HONKY TONK SWING), TWO GIRLS FROM GALAX, WALTZ FOR BILL MONROE, and the wonderful medley of two classic tunes, SENECA SQUARE DANCE and CHINQUAPIN HUNTING. The rest of the album sure ain't Bluegrass, but I found myself enjoying the trio's versions of CARAVAN, STARDUST, AS FAR AS I CAN SEE and OVER THE RAINBOW, all of which are beautifully played. It's quite a difference hearing tunes with great & distinctive melodies rather than the multi-noted, many chord-change but essentially unmemorable "original" tune workouts that seem to have such a strong appeal for some of today's most gifted musicians. Hats off to Baldassari and his friends for the restrained, tasteful & thoroughly musical job here. FOR J.L., OCTOTILLO, CRUISING THE TRACE.