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The Kitchen Tapes

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Album Review

Red Allen and Frank Wakefield were recorded here by Wakefield's future student David Grisman in 1963. The Kitchen Tapes captures the two of them jamming and improvising informally — at the time, Peter K. Siegel and Grisman were college students who had simply been allowed to capture one of Allen and Wakefield's private sessions, sitting in a kitchen in Hyattsville, MD. This was purely for Siegel and Grisman to learn from, but the tapes proved so valuable through the years that 31 years later, arrangements were made to issue it commercially. Lines are blown and notes are slurred here and there, and not every harmony is as smooth as it might be with some rehearsal, but this is still a priceless document, showing off these two legends in an informal, private session playing for their own pleasure. The 25 numbers include "I'm Just Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail," "Bluegrass Breakdown," "Muskrat Song," "Crying Heart Blues," "Billy in the Low Ground" (in maybe the best version of its era), "Nine Pound Hammer," "'Tis Sweet to Be Remembered," and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot." Grisman studied copies of these tapes for years, and has now shared them with the world.

The Kitchen Tapes, Red Allen & Frank Wakefield
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