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Album Review

Long before he became acknowledged as one of the greatest living mandolin players, David Grisman produced a record featuring two greats from an earlier generation: Tiny Moore (a veteran of the Western swing band Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys) and Jethro Burns (one half of the humorous country duo Homer & Jethro), along with rhythm guitarist Eldon Shamblin (another Wills' veteran) plus jazz greats Ray Brown on bass and Shelly Manne on drums. With superb arrangements by John Carlini, the music came to together with a minimum of fuss over two studio sessions, with Grisman joining the group on mandolin for three tracks. This is by no means a cutting contest between the two leaders, but a partnership where each man inspires the other. The interplay is lively in the jazz compositions, which include Duke Ellington's "In a Millstone," Wes Montgomery's "Back to Back" (which is also known as "Bock to Bock"), the Quintet of the Hot Club of France's "Swing '39," Lester Young's "Tickle Toe" and Dizzy Gillespie's "Groovin' High." But they also add delightful originals of their own (Burns playfully detours into the cool jazz vehicle "Bernie's Tune" in "Jethro's Tune") and offer a passionate treatment of Bill Monroe's "Moonlight Waltz." The bonus selection is the previously unreleased "Maiden's Prayer," which features Moore on fiddle, with Grisman taking his place on mandolin. Not only have these performances held up extremely well over a quarter century after they took place, but this two-CD reissue adds a bonus track and a companion alternate take for every song, in addition to photos from the sessions and Dug Waggoner's priceless artwork.


Born: 10 March 1920 in Conasauga, TN

Genre: Country

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

As the mandolinist in the classic country comedy duo Homer & Jethro, Kenneth Burns was one of the finest instrumentalists of his generation, yet many people never realized that fact. Behind the country hayseed garb, the hick patter, and the outrageous parodies of popular songs, "Jethro" Burns and guitarist Henry "Homer" Haynes were expert jazz musicians whose exaggerated hillbilly appearance and zany sendups of songs belied the cleverness of their comedy and the extraordinarily high quality of their...
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