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Jason Roberts

Texas Fiddleman – 2002 (Bismeaux)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Jason Roberts

Jason Roberts, Asleep At The Wheel's current fiddleman, has put together a danceable debut disc steeped in Texas swing. Produced by AATW honcho Ray Benson, the 12-song disc is long on instrumental chops although a bit short on originality.

Trading solos with several seasoned pickers including pianist Floyd Domino and fiddlemaster Johnny Gimble, Roberts peaks while employing his limber technique on some tight, two-steppin' instrumentals ("Beaumont Rag," "Don't Let The Deal Go Down," "Silver Lake Blues," "Tugboat"). Played with impeccable skill, these atmospheric performances conjure impressive shades of tone and sonic color. Vocally, the 26 year-old Roberts turns in reasonably solid performances of smartly produced oldies penned by Lefty Frizzell ("Bandy The Rodeo Clown," a 1975 hit for Moe Bandy), George Strait ("I Can't See Texas From Here"), and George Jones and Ray Price ("You Done Me Wrong"). That said, Roberts prefers imitating classic Western Swing bandleader vocals (including Tommy Duncan's trademark "Ah-ha"), to investing much emotion in his own style.

With four songs and most of the arrangements drawn from the Bob Wills era, Roberts' disc delivers a zippy, nostalgic tribute, but not much more.