Clarence White's guitar playing was captured on a number of albums and in a variety of styles between the mid-'60s and his early death in 1973. Still, one cannot help but listen to the Kentucky Colonels Appalachian Swing! and want to hear more of White's fine acoustic work. Now, on 33 Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals, one can. These recordings were captured on a home tape during 1962, featuring no more than White's lead guitar with Roger Bush playing rhythm. This album, recorded two years before Appalachian Swing!, shows just how far his flatpicking had advanced. Most of the instrumentals are short -- from 44 seconds to a little over two minutes -- and feature well known tunes such as "Sugarfoot Rag," "Nine Pound Hammer," and "Sally Goodin." Some material -- "In the Pines" and "I Am a Pilgrim" -- is shot through with bluesy, soulful playing. Even on straightforward material like "Banks of the Ohio" and "Old Joe Clark," White shows an incredible sense of rhythm, timing, and melody. The oldest of warhorses, "Wildwood Flower," sounds fresh here, and perhaps it is because there is always a sense of openness and intelligence in White's playing, something that is absent from contemporary flatpickers who trade style for speed. The liner notes replace the normal biographical information with testimonials of acoustic players influenced by White, including Jerry Garcia, Tony Rice, and Doc Watson. For those who are already familiar with White, this album is a must have; for the unfamiliar, this is a great place to start. 33 Acoustic Guitar Instrumentals is a lovely album from a master flatpicker captured in rare form.
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