Alan Munde

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Alan Munde is one of those phenomenally talented banjo players who very quietly go around making other, more flamboyant characters look like mere showoffs. He can do that because he's possessed of both incredible chops and transcendent taste (a rare combination in banjoists). As he shows here, he can take bluegrass chestnuts like "Cripple Creek" and "Clinch Mountain Backstep" and reveal new depths of melodic content in them while simultaneously bringing out the best in his supporting musicians. In this case, those musicians include some of the best -- the tracks on this album were culled from several LPs and feature performances by mandolinists Roland White and Sam Bush and dobroist Jerry Douglas, just to name a few. But unassuming as he may be, it's Munde's picking that takes center stage here; he plays with both the rock-hard intensity of Earl Scruggs and the melodic inventiveness of Tony Trischka (again, how many banjo players can do either of those things, let alone both?). Check out in particular his rendition of "Earl's Breakdown," a Scruggs classic. Highly recommended.

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