Chet Atkins

The Night Atlanta Burned

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A dignified John D. Loudermilk composition inspired by General Sherman's scorched-earth treatment of Atlanta during the Civil War, "The Night Atlanta Burned" in turn inspired this beautiful, all too brief LP credited to The Atkins String Co. -- a quartet of top-notch country string players led by Chester Atkins himself. Here, Atkins was trying to achieve a fusion of classical music techniques and ideas with those of country music and its bluegrass branch, so what you have is a classy chamber country ensemble drawing tunes and influences from around the map. You can hear Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, and Latin classical influences mixed together or side by side on the homey "San Antonio Stroll" or Bill Monroe's hoe-down "Scotland." Atkins's fluid Tennessee-smooth acoustic guitar and occasional mandolin has the most striking personality, with Lisa Silver's violin and viola, Johnny Gimble's mandolin, and Paul Yandell's rhythm guitar providing gentle companionship. With all the hype about the Yo-Yo Ma/Mark O'Connor/Edgar Meyer Appalachia Waltz projects of the 1990s, it's enlightening to discover the seeds of that classical/country/bluegrass fusion right here, some 20 years ahead of the game.

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