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TOMMY JACKSON 'The Legendary Session Fiddler' BACM-294-CD


This is a way overdue re-issue of fiddle tunes by one of the most influential musicians in the history of post-war country music. Though it is not Bluegrass as such, I doubt very much that there is any first or second generation Bluegrass musician who is not familiar with the work of Tommy Jackson. Known almost exclusively as a session and sometime road musician, Jackson took part in some classic Bluegrass recordings, including sessions with Bill Monroe, Mac Wiseman, and others, and also contributed to the "sound" of country artists like Ray Price. But even more, he is especially known for a series of definitive versions of classic old fiddle tunes like RYE STRAW, SOLDIER'S JOY, BILL CHEATUM, ARKANSAS TRAVELER, LEATHER BRITCHES, and the list goes on and on. Many a country and Bluegrass fiddler learned these tunes from Jackson's extensive recordings for the Dot and Mercury labels in the 1950s. Hearing Jackson's "DEVIL'S DREAM" kickoff to so many Opry segments and various Army & Navy radio transcriptions brought a warm excitement to many a listener throughout the 1950s and 60s. Though Jackson's 8 or 10 long-play albums had a solid audience at one time (among square dance callers as well as musicians), his work never made it to the days of compact discs, and sadly he died in 1979 at the young age of 53, pretty well forgotten except by other fiddlers. Hats off to the British Archive label for gathering up 26 of the DOT label recordings that Jackson made between 1952 and 1955. Brian Golbey's notes give a good thumb nail history of this artist, who was essentially a Nashville native. The only thing we would have liked to see here is a list of the accompanying musicians, because there is some great note for note mandolin picking on many of these cuts. Rumor has always been that both Jethro Burns and Hank Garland picked mandolin on various sessions (possibly Lonzo & Oscar as well?) but it would be nice to know for sure. This is a very important and really welcome release.