Various Artists

Jamming: Bluegrass Celebrates Bob Marley

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Jamming, a bluegrass celebration of Bob Marley, is one of CMH's best collections. Every Marley fan may not want to hear "Natty Dread" on fiddle and banjo, but that would be their loss. These instrumental versions provide a fresh context to enjoy these songs, and show that they're quite good songs, even without the vocals. "No Woman, No Cry," for instance, begins with the fiddle that perfectly underlines the delicate beauty of the song. The fiddle is followed by banjo, guitar, and mandolin, each trading leads and offering spare accompaniment. Steve Fishell's dobro gives a real kick to "Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)," while Pat Bergeson's harmonica jazzes up "I Shot the Sheriff." There are quite a few players on this album, and it's nice that credits are broken down for individual songs. There's a great intro on "Get Up, Stand Up," with the bass, guitar, and mandolin playing the chords in unison, and a fascinating combination of accordion, Latin percussion, and mandolin on "Waiting in Vain." Several players appear repeatedly, including multiple instrumentalist David West and pianist/accordion player Al Di Marco. West, who appears on every track save one, is an excellent guitar player -- electric and acoustic -- and is probably the glue that holds the whole project together. Some Marley fans may cringe at the convergence of reggae and bluegrass, but most will enjoy the easygoing acoustic style of Jamming. And who knows? The album may even turn a few bluegrass fans onto the master of reggae.

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