Mike Auldridge, Bob Brozman, David Grisman - Tone Poems III
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Tone Poems III (Acoustic Disc, 2000)

Mike Auldridge, Bob Brozman, David Grisman

Reviewed by Brad San Martin

Subtitled "The Sounds of Great Slide & Resophonic Instruments," the latest installment in Acoustic Disc's now-familiar series from Mike Auldridge, Bob Brozman and David Grisman manages to find a unique twist to the venerable vintage-strings-come-alive premise. Over 21 brief tracks, the master musicians at the helm employ 53 different instruments while exploring the resophonic guitar's (Dobros being the most familiar example) role in 20th century popular music.

An instrument born of the 1920's futurism and fascination, the resonator guitar's first function was to use its resonating cone to produce a greater volume of sound. A by-product of its tin and steel components was its distinct perky twang.

Surprisingly - and to the credit of the participating trio - the instruments' nasal pluck, (played with picks, slides, and fingers) never gets old here. Why?

Because in addition to exploring the obvious styles that these instruments fostered (Hawaiian, loping cakewalks, blues, swing and bluegrass), Auldridge, Brozman, and Grisman blend them. A funky cross rhythm will pop up in the oddest places, and a sweet - almost arcane - simplicity graces even the most riotous passages.

The fresh and fluid music is accompanied by a massive, 48-page booklet that is details each instrument's origin and quirks. Complimentary in the best possible sense, the book and album combine to create an astonishing piece of vital, living history.

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