Tony Rice: The Bill Monroe Collection

An anthology of Tony Rice’s recordings of Bill Monroe’s songs

The centennial anniversary of Bill Monroe’s birth has produced an outpouring of tributes (e.g., 1 2 3 4 5) from many of the musicians who’ve descended from the master’s vision. Each of the disciples has played Monroe’s tunes on stage and recorded them sporadically, but with these tributes they’ve made album length statements about their relationship to the music and the man. Tony Rice has also played and recorded Monroe’s music, but instead of recording a purpose-built tribute, his label has cherry-picked fourteen tracks from nine albums released between 1981 and 2000. This includes solo titles and sessions with David Grisman, the Tony Rice Unit, the Rice Bothers and the Bluegrass Album Band.

Fans may already have many of these tracks on original albums or previous collections (Lonesome Moonlight: Bluegrass Songs of Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Guitar Collection), but for those not steeped in the Tony Rice catalog, this is a fine anthology. Not only is Rice a preeminent bluegrass guitarist and singer, but twenty years of recordings say as much about Rice’s evolving relationship to Monroe as they do about Monroe himself. The set mixes vocal and instrumental tracks, and ranges from traditional playing to styles influenced by jazz and swing. Marian Levy’s liners fill out Rice’s view of Monroe, though the ink she spends on ponderous philosophizing would have been better spent discussing the songs, performances and settings. Chuck the liner notes and you’ll find all you need to know in the grooves. [©2012 hyperbolium dot com]

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