New True Blue

The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Volume 2 (Warner Brothers Records, Inc.)
Béla Fleck [plus Sam Bush, Tony Rice, Mark Shatz, Stuart Duncan, Jerry Douglas, and many others]

By Bob Mitchell

What a band! What a recording!! Simply stellar!!!

There is something wonderful about the music produced by a string. When unamplified stringed instruments are put in the hands of talented musicians, you have one of life's greatest pleasures: acoustic music. This mostly instrumental project is filled with very tight and often complex arrangements from old friends who enjoy and admire one another's work. It is an absolute delight to listen to this fabulous configuration of seasoned professionals. Each track is a series of one fine solo after another.

To maximize enjoyment, listen with head phones and follow your favorite person's track. Each musician's contribution is first rate whether he is providing rhythm or taking a ride. I found myself constantly shaking my head in amazement. Béla does a bang-up job on banjo. Sam is savvy and suave. Tony is terrific. Shatz is solid and steady. Douglas is delightful and darn good. Stuart is sensational. Earl is elegant. Clements is colossal.

This is not your typical Bluegrass recording. However, it is based in "truegrass" roots even when they stray from "stone cold traditional to the edges of newgrass." The participation of Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements, John Hartford, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill and others provides a listener with a rare listening experience that includes the first three generations of Bluegrass.

You can catch Béla, Sam, Jerry, Mark Brian Sutton and Stuart Duncan in person at the kick-off show for the Fall 1999 Bank One Lonesome Pine Series on Friday, October 8 in Whitney Hall, KCA.