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Three Ring Circle

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Album Review

Prior to the formation of the trio Three Ring Circle, its members, Dobro player Rob Ickes, mandolinist and fiddle player Andy Leftwich, and bassist Dave Pomeroy, had each built up an impressive résumé. In addition to four albums as a leader, Ickes was a member of the Rarely Herd and Blue Highway, and had played on sessions for dozens of artists including Mary Chapin Carpenter, Alison Krauss, Chris LeDoux, Patty Loveless, Reba McEntire, the Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers, SHeDAISY, and Steve Wariner; Leftwich's credits included his solo album Ride and work with the Chieftains, Lynn Anderson, and Ricky Skaggs; and Pomeroy, the most experienced of the three, had recorded with a too-numerous-to-mention who's who of prominent country and folk artists dating back 30 years. In addition to the versatility required of session players, all three have shown a propensity for bringing in other styles, especially pop and jazz, to mix with their bluegrass roots. Ickes, for example, has played on many of those Pickin' On albums of bluegrass arrangements of the work of pop stars, and has put Herbie Hancock and Stevie Winwood songs on his solo albums. That pattern of progressive bluegrass is followed on Three Ring Circle's self-titled debut, which features the trio's renditions of tunes by Jeff Beck and Stevie Wonder in addition to originals. The playing is impeccable, of course, with lightning runs and exciting interplay. This is an album for lovers of bluegrass who are willing to have it incorporate other styles and do so with authority.

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