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Jim and Jesse McReynolds

Jesse McReynolds & Charles Whitstein: A Tribute To Brother Duets – 2005 (Pinecastle)

Reviewed by Greg Milliken

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CDs by Jim and Jesse McReynolds

The teaming of Jesse McReynolds and Charles Whitstein seems a natural. Both are legendary bluegrass artists who lost their brother/partners and wondered if they'd ever perform again. Friends for many years, McReynolds and Whitstein's pairing delivers exactly what the title promises: 11 classics of the brother-duet genre (along with a new McReynolds composition) sincerely and competently executed.

There is an easy camaraderie between the two, and longtime fans of Jim & Jesse and the Whitstein Brothers will find much to like. The veterans are still in fine voice and benefit from McReynolds' clean production and the solid, straightforward backing. Highlights include the reprise of Jim & Jesse's first side, "Are You Missing Me," the Delmore Brothers' "Blues Stay Away From Me" and "The White Dove," the Stanley Brothers classic. Other brother groups recalled include the Yorks, Wilburns, Bailes and the Blue Sky Boys.

The CD's packaging is attractive and the extensive liner notes are full of insights and information. If a flaw exists, it is in the nearly unrelenting melancholy of the selections. Granted, heartache and sorrow are integral to bluegrass, but there is little here to relieve the wistful tone.