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Album Review

Is it jazz? Is it bluegrass? Is it early new age? At the time of Backwaters' release, Rounder Records was lumping it into a category called "new acoustic music." Call it whatever you choose, this is excellent music, impeccably played by a group of guys who are all virtuosos on their respective instruments. Even the most die-hard jazz cop would appreciate the playing, but one needn't be a critic to simply enjoy this collection. Tony Rice may be the finest acoustic guitar picker on the planet, and he also has written some beautiful pieces for this recording. Accompanied by Fred Carpenter and Richard Greene on violins, John Reischman on mandolin, with support from Todd Phillips on standup bass and brother Wyatt Rice on rhythm guitar, Rice takes his music to a whole new place. Every note sounds right, and each member of the ensemble plays with exceptional taste and class. Dave Grusin's "A Child Is Born" is absolutely gorgeous, and the quintet's bluegrass-paced take on "My Favourite Things" is an obvious, but reinvigorating, string-picker's nod to John Coltrane. "On Green Dolphin Street" is reminiscent of Stephane Grapelli and Django Reinhardt on their Hot Club of France recordings. After this release, Rice returned to more traditional-sounding folk and bluegrass music, but Backwaters is his masterpiece. So, what label can you place on this genre-defying music? How about Rice's own term, "spacegrass."

Customer Reviews

Not Thad Jones' A Child Is Born

Funny, the review bashing the review...listen to the clip; It is not the Thad Jones classic by the same title. Great album and some of the best mandolin work in the idiom from John Reishmann.

Excellent record but embarrassing review

Dave Grusin didn't write "A Child Is Born." That's a Thad Jones' composition. His most famous, in fact. But misinformed platitudes above aside, this is a killer acoustic\grass\jazz\flat-pickxstravaganza ala Grisman's Dawg music.

Landmark masterpiece

If you play guitar, no matter the genre, you should listen to this album. It contains some of the finest playing you'll ever hear. Tony Rice is a master of time and tone, his playing is breath-takingly clear. Few musicians would have the courage to attempt this purity of sound. Listen for yourself. I've never tired of this album since its release.


Born: June 8, 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,...
Full Bio