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Carroll Best

Say Old Man, Can You Play The Banjo? – 2001 (Copper Creek)

Reviewed by Larry Stephens

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CDs by Carroll Best

Caroll Best (1931-1995) is considered by some as one of the fathers of the melodic ("violin" or "Scruggs") style of three-finger banjo picking. Because he had little national exposure he is unknown to the majority of bluegrass and old time music fans. Thankfully, this CD exhibits the talents of a master.

The banjo isn't for everyone, especially an album of 36 tunes, many of them standards ("Katy Hill," "Liberty," "Grey Eagle"), but this CD shouldn't be overlooked. Most cuts are short - a blessing with repetitive tunes like "Buffalo Gals" - but capture the simplest essence of bluegrass and old time styles.

These were recorded in a variety of venues, including a home tape recorder, but the CD is surprisingly even across the seven sessions. Given the quality of his playing, it's regretful he was not featured on more recordings. Fortunately, this CD means his banjo virtuosity will not be lost.