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Tone Poems, Vol. 3: The Sounds of the Great Slide & Resophonic Instruments

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Album Review

Tone Poems 3 follows in the tradition of David Grisman's two previous Tone Poems albums, featuring vintage instruments and the musical styles for which they were designed. As this project was designed to show off slide and resophonic instruments, Grisman doesn't stick to just the mandolin. In addition to various steel and slide mandolins, the session leader plays tenor guitar and guitar with Mike Auldridge and Bob Brozman, two of the resophonic guitar's most eminent players. A different set of antique instruments is used for each song, and the vintage of the instruments progresses in roughly chronological order. The type of music, then, also develops from track to track. Initially, the album features Hawaiian-style songs like "Moonlight Bay" or once popular Tin Pan Alley tunes like "Whispering" that may have been played in a Hawaiian manner in the '20s. But as the trio starts working with post-Depression era instruments, songs such as "Limehouse Blues" and "Just Joshin'" show the influence of the blues and country genres that eventually began to employ steel-slide sounds. By the end of the record, the band plays some quite modern material, like the original "New Steal," a dirty, blues-heavy stomp. Indeed, one of the greatest perks of these Tone Poems sets is their educational value, and, like the others, this one comes with a 40-plus page booklet featuring descriptions and color photos of the instruments played on each song. Some of the album's best moments spring from the group's historical re-creations. The standard "Crazy Rhythm," for instance, is expanded into a sort of duet suite with quirky, out-of-time intros by Brozman on ukulele and Grisman on mandolin (not to mention some blistering solo work). Yet, this album isn't just a history project; it's sprinkled with several original compositions, including two gritty blues numbers, that are at least as appealing as the older tunes and raise hopes that these three masters will record together again.


Born: March 8, 1954 in New York, NY

Genre: World

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

Multi-instrumentalist, historian, and educator Bob Brozman was born in New York on March 8, 1954. His uncle, Barney Josephson, was a prominent club owner who ran Cafe Society in Greenwich Village, one of the first places in New York, or anywhere, where black and white musicians played on-stage together. Brozman studied music and ethnomusicology at Washington University in St. Louis. Brozman became not only a master of classic blues from the '20s and '30s, but also a competent performer of early...
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