A Good Look Back

In Good Company (CMH)

Jimmy Gaudreau

By Bob Mitchell

A tip of the reviewer's cap to CMH for this magnificent thirty-year retrospective designed to showcase the incredible talent of one of the industry's most highly respected mandolin players. Gaudreau is joined by a host of bluegrass luminaries, including Mike Auldridge, Bill Clifton, Bill Emerson, Bela Fleck, Aubrey Haynie, Jack Lawrence, Tony and Wyatt Rice, Sammy Shellor, Rickie and Ronnie Simpkins, John Starling, Dan Tyminski, Randy Waller, Mark Schatz and too many others to name.

Seventeen studio and live tracks provide an impressive overview of Gaudreau's prolific career and, as a bonus, most of the cuts are previously unreleased performances recorded between 1989 (Don Reno's "Chocking The Strings" with Emerson on banjo, Tony Rice on guitar, Schatz on bass and Rickie Simpkins on fiddle) and 2005 ("Ashes of Love" and "Follow The Leader" with Orrin Starr's lead vocal and guitar). Additionally there is a poignant recording made with Charlie Waller shortly before his untimely death ("I Just Can't Sing The Old Songs").

There is no way to do this release justice in the space normally allotted to a review. However, several highlights must be mentioned: "Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone" with Tony Rice; "Colleen Malone" with Moondi Klein and Auldridge; "Who's Sad and Lonely Now" with Randy Waller, Shellor and Haynie; "Crazy Blues" with Lawrence and Emory Lester; and "Home of the Soul" with Clifton.

In Good Company is like a box of Cracker Jacks, because each track contains a surprise. Throughout the project, Gaudreau's fresh, innovative mandolin picking is at center stage. Additionally, his lead vocal is very solid on a first-rate cover of the Beatles' "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" and a swinging "Crazy Blues." On a five-point scale of excellence, this release merits a five.

For more information, check out www.jimmygaudreau.com.