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|Tony Williamson||Primary Artist, Mandolin|
|Brent Lambert||Producer, Liner Notes, Mastering|
|Mary Gunn||Graphic Design|
Posted October 1, 2010
Playing Time - 55:07 -- Bill Monroe often spoke about the "ancient tones" that fiddlers would embrace to get the most vibrations and loudness out of their instruments in a traditional-sounding way. Perhaps a similar inspiration came to mandolin virtuoso Tony Williamson when he first visited a restored 19th century grain mill on the Haw River in North Carolina. He realized that the natural wood surfaces there would only serve to complement the sounds emanating from acoustic instruments. So he bounced the idea of recording a live session off bassist Robbie Link, guitarist Jeff Autry, and fiddler/banjo-player Rex McGee. The result is nearly an hour's worth of hot picking, recorded largely without overdubbing. To preserve the spontaneous feel of the live jam session, no one had any prior knowledge of the tunes that were going to be played. The musicians simply let their fingers (and instruments) do the talking. Tony Williamson wanted the music to reflect the free will of the players, something he's called "musical democracy in action." The album opens with a jammed up rendition of Tommy Jackson's "Crazy Creek," then the band clearly shows their jazz influences as they move through some inspiring tunes like Jeff Autry's "Blue Heels" and Rex McGee's beautiful original "First Waltz of Spring" (a song which also happens to have lyrics they didn't use). The choice of repertoire for the session was partly due to Williamson asking each player to bring an original tune. Williamson wrote "Postcard from the Island" and "Sunrise on the Water" while at Topsail Island, N.C. where he often vacations in the summer. Tony and Jeff can also be heard playing "Wild Julio" as a duo on Jeff Autry's highly-acclaimed Pinecastle Records release entitled "Foothills"(PRC 1090). A couple personal favorites on this project are the Latin standard, "Spanish Eyes" (written by Bert Kaempfert) and the Dawg-like "Mother's Day" (written by Robbie Link) which gives each instrumentalist a chance to improvise freely. When the band launches into Charlie Parker's "Now is the Time," you know you're in for an acoustic treat. The traditional Appalachian fiddle tune, "June Apple" begins with an interesting four-minute prelude of moderate tempo banjo and bowed bass. Whether the tune is jazz or old-time, this quartet of string wizards very capably serve up the goods. Tony Williamson holds a highest honors degree in English literature from the University of North Carolina, and he has experience with many different musical genres and bands. He played with the Bluegrass Gentlemen, and then with Bluegrass Alliance in the 1970s. He's also performed classical music with the Duke University Symphony Orchestra, jazz at the Art School in Chapel Hill, NC., and swing/jazz with Champagne Charlie. Tony was the "W" in the well-received group, ASH&W. As a studio musician, he's appeared on releases from John Hartford, Mike Cross, Bobby Hicks, Ricky Skaggs, Bill Clifton, Mike Seeger, Vassar Clements, Jerry Douglas, Jimmy Murphy, John Duffy and Tom Gray. Williamson's album, "All For Naught" features solo mandolin, mandola, mandocello and guitar. His "Across the Grain" album features original material and arrangements with the likes of Jerry Douglas, Robbie Link, Don Mercz, Craig Smith, Scott Huffman and Jason Carter. Some additional albums since then have also received critical acclaim. In 1990, Tony Williamson founded Mandolin Central, an international resource of mandolin lore, vintage instruments and accessories. Tony has a large collection of vintage and rare mandolin family instruments, and he performs an entertaining one-man show (called "The Sound of the American Mandolin") which features Tony and his instruments. It's also available on video. Now, "Sessions at McBane Mill" from Tony Williamson iWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.