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CD Review: TONE POEMS III
Tone Poems 3 - David Grisman, Mike Auldridge, and Bob Brozman
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BLUEGRASS MUSIC, USA

Mike Auldridge, Bob Brozman, David Grisman:
Tone Poems III - The Sounds Of The Great Slide & Resophonic Instruments




If you have seen either of David Grisman/Acoustic Disc's earlier "Tone Poems" releases (I with Grisman and Tony Rice; II with Grisman and Martin Taylor), you'll know what to expect: the ultimate recorded celebration of a family of musical instruments. This time, the world's sliders and resonators get the Grisman treatment.

The plastic CD jewel box and booklet are encased in a cardboard sleeve. This allows the booklet to be slightly larger than usual, and what a booklet it is: 48 glossy, gorgeous pages combining new and vintage photos of the instruments and the people who built and played them, and text detailing the various guitar, mandolin, and ukulele histories.

The music ranges from blues to newgrass, Hawaiian to traditional country, jazz to jump, swing, latin, Tin Pan Alley, and bluegrass. Of course, what matters most is who holds the picks.

It is hard to imagine a bluegrass fan who is not at least aware of mandolinist Grisman and resonator guitarist Mike Auldridge. Bob Brozman, a giant in the world of National guitars, is the third of this all-star trio.

The playing is extraordinary. To my ears, three sliding instruments is a tough act - much more so than the earlier "Tone Poems" guitar/mando combos - especially without a bass to help keep things tethered. In this case, Grisman's wisdom in combining related yet distinctive instruments ensures that each axe's voice remains identifiable, avoiding the jangling wash of sound that can emanate from, for example, a resonator guitar workshop. The players' mastery of dynamics is also a huge factor in the music's success.

Still, whether this CD is for you will depend on how much you love the sounds of slide. If you really love them, you need this disc. If you simply like them, still you should own it but don't try to digest it in one sitting. Highlights include the dawgish "New Steal," the bluesy, jumping "Beat Biscuit Blues," a jaunty "Limehouse Blues" with a sighing, haunting introduction, the lilting, waltzing "It Happened In Monterey," the old-time instrumental pop of "Whispering," and one of Mike Auldridge's specialties, the Benny Goodman classic, "Stompin' At The Savoy."

So let's see what's left for Tone Poems IV and more: Fiddles. Banjos. Basses? Accordions?? Knowing Grisman and his track record, "Tone Poems XII - The Sounds Of The Great Spoons" might even be worth a look. Maybe.

Bob Brozman - King of the National Guitar


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