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NOAM PIKELNY 'Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe' COMP-4616-CD

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Mr. Pikelny --one of today's group of young acoustic music whizzes -- has put together a fascinating record here that is at the same time a) a tribute to Monroe, the father of Bluegrass, b) a tribute to one of the great fiddlers of all time, and c) a testament to the superb banjo playing of Pikelny himself. It's a clever idea that works out beautifully, thanks to the taste and stunning technique of Pikelny (as well as the talents of four other stellar pickers: Ronnie McCoury on mandolin, Bryan Sutton (guitar), Mike Bub (Bass) and Stuart Duncan --who does a masterful job in capturing the essence of Kenny Baker's fiddling. The record is based on the classic "Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe" album that came out originally in 1976 on the County label as an LP (it's still available as a CD (COUNTY-2708, $ 13.99). As an interesting aside, the dozen tunes appear in the exact same order as on the Baker recording! While sometimes the improvised excursions into "progressive" territory seem distracting and inappropriate, for the most part there is so much great playing here --both from Pikelny and his accompanists --that that is a minor complaint. Pikelny does a neat job of adapting Baker's fiddle lines to his own banjo style that combines melodic and straight Scruggs style in its takes on the melodies. The record is also a great reminder of just how many great tunes Bill Monroe composed --every piece here is a classic! There's a lot here for any Bluegrass musician --especially banjo pickers --and Noam couldn't have picked better sidemen than appear here. Tunes include CHEYENNE, BIG SANDY RIVER, ROAD TO COLUMBUS, ASHLAND BREAKDOWN, LONESOME MOONLIGHT WALTZ.