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The Bluegrass Guitar Collection

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Album Review

There is no question that the most influential lead guitarist in bluegrass history is the late Clarence White. After that, the arguments start. Who comes next — Doc Watson? Norman Blake? Dan Crary? While you'll never achieve complete consensus on this point, if you took a vote the chances are very good that the second name in the list of important lead guitarists would be that of Tony Rice, who is not only an acknowledged master of the traditional bluegrass idiom but a highly influential stylistic innovator, one who helped create the jazz-grass fusion music of the 1970s and 1980s that came, for better or worse, to be called new acoustic music. This excellent compilation (which gets its title from the serial number of Clarence White's Martin D-28 guitar, which Rice has owned and played since 1975) celebrates his contributions on the more traditional side of things, and its tracks include full-band performances with the likes of the Bluegrass Album Band, his own Tony Rice Unit, and a quartet made up entirely of Rice brothers, as well as a handful of duo recordings with Norman Blake and a rambunctious arrangement of "Lost Indian" for a guitar trio featuring Rice, Blake, and Doc Watson. Although you could argue that his take on Bill Monroe's "Jerusalem Ridge" is maybe a bit lacking in nuance, everything else on this album ranges from great to spectacular. Among the particular highlights are a gorgeous and quite traditional rendition of "Home Sweet Home," a great medley of Irish tunes played in duet with Blake, and a hard-driving arrangement of "Monroe's Hornpipe" on which Rice's solos are like a 60-second seminar on how to combine virtuosity and taste. This album makes an excellent introduction to one of America's most gifted musicians in any genre.


Born: 08 June 1951 in Danville, VA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Tony Rice is one of bluegrass' most inventive flatpicking guitar players. Although he's displayed a mastery of the genre's traditions, Rice set the standard for more contemporary styles. A former member of the Bluegrass Alliance, the David Grisman Quintet, J.D. Crowe's New South, and the Bluegrass Album Band, Rice has continued to reflect his eclectic approach on solo recordings, two albums with flatpicking guitar ace Norman Blake, and two albums, recorded with his brothers Larry, Ron, and Wyatt,...
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The Bluegrass Guitar Collection, Tony Rice
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