Dudley Hill

From a Northern Family

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Kind of a chronicle of all the best playing relationships this Seattle guitarist could fit onto two sides of vinyl, this was a very fine debut album. Hill eventually evolved into more of a jazz picker via '90s combos such as Pearl Django but, back in the mid-'70s, he was an old-time music hound and had sniffed out one of the greatest fiddlers of all time, Texan Benny Thomasson. This legend, who plays with an almighty sonic presence similar to John Coltrane on tenor sax or Jimi Hendrix on guitar, is featured here on four different tracks, all both typical and suitable vehicles for his tricks. These numbers would have justified pressing the album in themselves, so it is a bargain that so many of the other pieces cover so many different approaches to traditional playing, even if it is with lesser-known collaborators. Just the variety of instruments featured is wonderful, including spots by ace harmonica player Mark Graham and some swing-style pieces with pianist Scott Smith, apparently recorded practically off the cuff. As he is recorded louder than anyone, the guitar of Hill seems to be the almighty presence everywhere, and he is a player who should make listeners pay attention quickly. He has a bright, cheerful sound and likes to jump in on the fiddle tune melodies as if he were the fiddler himself.

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