12 Songs, 41 Minutes


Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5

35 Ratings

35 Ratings

An Instant Classic - Finest Bluegrass


Noam Pikelny's tribute to the best of traditional bluegrass is a brilliant, exciting album that is enjoyable listening throughout.

It's always interesting when a great artist decides to re-create an existing work. It opens up our understanding of both the original and the new version. One is aware that - like the new expression of the piece - the original was also created out of multiple decisions of what to do and how to do it. Listening to "Kenny Baker plays Bill Monroe" and comparing track to track with Noam Pikelny's new recording is a fascinating and expanding experience. We can think about how Baker assigned parts, just as Pikelny had to: after the banjo takes the fiddle part, what do you do with the banjo part? what does the fiddle do, etc. And that leads back to the arranging Kenny Baker did. Of course, then there's Bill Monroe's original. But I digress.

Backed up by Stuart Duncan, Ronnie McCoury, Bryan Sutton, and Mike Bub, Noam has re-imagined Kenny Baker's original 1976 album while being true to its roots. It has the same tracks, in the same order, but with the banjo taking Kenny's fiddle parts. Noam - and the other excellent musicians - skillfully blend their five instruments to reiterate and further explore the theme and progressions in Bill Monroe's tunes. Gabe Witcher produced, brilliantly. It's creative, highly musical, and fun to listen to.

Noam's best album to date - they just keep getting better!



This album will change the way many people see the bluegrass banjo. This is spot on Kenny baker plays bill Monroe, yet it has enough flare to be unique. I am completely blown away and yet not surprised at all considering the great musicianship on this record. Great job, Noam.

Awesome Album


Never even heard of this guy before. I just saw it on Itunes releases and started listening to the previews of the tracks. After making it to the 4th preview, I knew I had to buy the album. So far it sounds FANTASTIC! Would recommend.

About Noam Pikelny

A virtuoso five-string banjo player, Noam Pikelny was born February 27, 1981 in Chicago, Illinois. His childhood, he has said lightheartedly, was split between the Chicago Cubs' Wrigley Field and the Old Town School of Folk Music. He was already playing in traditional bluegrass bands while he was in high school, and went on to study music at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, after which he moved to Boulder, Colorado. He joined the Colorado ensemble Leftover Salmon in 2002 (he remained with the band until 2004), and two years later he issued his first solo album, In the Maze, on Compass Records. Pikelny relocated to Nashville in 2006 and began playing with New Grass Revival bassist and singer John Cowan. He also started playing with mandolinist Chris Thile that same year in the progressive chamber bluegrass band Punch Brothers. His second solo album, Beat the Devil & Carry a Rail, appeared from Compass Records in 2011, and earned a nomination for Best Bluegrass Album at the 2013 Grammy Awards. He earned a second nomination in 2015 for his chart-topping 2013 release Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe. In 2017 he released his fourth LP and first proper solo outing (as in no accompaniment), Universal Favorite. ~ Steve Leggett

Chicago, IL
February 27, 1981




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