Arnie Naiman / Brian Taheny

Banjo Special

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

Those who love the sound of the banjo and don't much care how many strings it has or what variety of music it's playing will get a huge kick out of this nicely conceived and brilliantly played album, which brings together two clawhammer-style five-string banjo players (Chris Coole and Arnie Naiman), an Irish plectrum-style tenor banjo player (Brian Taheny) and an Earl Scruggs-style bluegrass banjo picker (Chris Quinn). They don't all play together, but instead take turns playing traditional and original tunes from the genres most closely associated with their instruments. Highlights include Naiman's gorgeous original clawhammer composition "Waltonian Sunsets," a great jig set titled "Gold Ring" by Taheny, Coole's arrangements of "Year of Jubilo," and "Turkey Sag" for fretless banjo, and Quinn's fine rendition of "Lonesome Road Blues," a tune long-associated with Earl Scruggs. The final track is an ensemble performance of "Arkansas Traveller" that could easily be used as a seminar in 20th century banjo styles. This is one of those rare instrumental albums that is both consistently impressive and thoroughly enjoyable. Highly recommended.