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Tony Rice

The Bluegrass Guitar Collection – 2003 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Tony Rice

Tony Rice has been a fixture in the bluegrass scene for over three decades. He epitomizes the hard driving instrumental style associated with bluegrass music. He has successfully experimented with other genres, but the core of his music is bluegrass. A decade ago, throat problems silenced his singing, but Rice's guitar playing has never lost its power and attraction.

This CD is a compilation from many recordings. Included are so many standards that you'll have a hard time picking a favorite, but the centerpiece is a six-minute version of "Jerusalem Ridge." He is backed by a variety of the best musicians in bluegrass (Lawson, Simpkins, Clements, Bush), and there isn't a missed beat on these 21 tracks. If looking for a quiet, reflective piece, consider "Misty Morning" or "Cheyenne." The other 19 blaze out of your speakers, exhausting you with their energy and blazing speed on the strings, from "Big Mon" to "Blackberry Blossom," the jazzy sounds of "Port Tobacco" to the familiar notes of "Lost Indian."

The selections illustrate the best of bluegrass instrumental music underscored by one of the best guitar pickers you'll ever hear.