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Kenny Baker

A Baker's Dozen – 2004 (County)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Kenny Baker

If you've listened to Bill Monroe's bluegrass any time at all, you'll know Kenny Baker's name. One of Monroe's longest tenured sidemen, he has been called the best bluegrass fiddler of all time.

This CD is a reissue of a 1971 LP. The recording studio was a motel room, and his sidemen included "Sammy" Bush, Butch Robins, Ebo Walker and John Kaparakis. If making an instrumental album, you couldn't ask for a better lineup of musicians. Baker's style is renowned, and he was at the height of his game when this was made. While some of the tunes are standards, such as "Ragtime Annie" and "Black Mountain Rag," eight are Baker compositions. His smooth playing makes such pleasurable listening that it's easy to see why his fiddling has been studied by fans for years, trying to incorporate his techniques and stylings into their own play.

From "Sam's Tune" (composed in honor of Sam Bush) to "Hickam County Breakdown" Baker illustrates why he's been one of the best in bluegrass for decades.