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Bluegrass banjoist Ned Luberecki is not only joined by vocalists Dale Ann Bradley, Amanda Smith and Becky Buller (she also plays fiddle and harmony vocals) but pickers Mike Compton, David Grier, Missy Raines, Rob Ickes, Casey Campbell, Cody Martin, Ethan Ballinger, Shad Cobb, Chris Jones, Mark Stoffel, Jon Weisberger and, has Stephen Mougin (guitar) share vocals on his “Buck Owens Medley”. Due to the eclectic nature of the album I am unsure how traditional bluegrass followers will receive Take Five; for good through the jazz flavoured tunes are many would still have preferred an old-fashioned nuts and bolts tune. However, to Luberecki’s credit he does provide sufficient genuine standouts to balance the impact of the likes of cool jazz numbers “Girl From Ipanema”, “Take Five” and his own “Earl’s Court”. Plus he does an impeccable interpretation of “Blue Monk” (Thelonious Monk). Among quotes the I have read Bill Evans with ‘this is state-of-the-art five-string banjo, cooked with virtuosity and creativity, a full course feast’ he sums it up as good as any. The record evens has a dash of humour as his includes “Where No Man Has Gone Before (Star Trek Theme)”.


As for highlights you have banjo fiddle duet “Cleveland Park”, Tom Adams’ “Adams County Breakdown” and with Smith in top form on lead vocals plus Cobb (fiddle), Compton (mandolin), Raines (upright bass), Grier (guitar) accompanying Luberecki the recording “We’ll Put Out The Fire” is master class. Likewise goes for “Fiddlin’ Dan” as Buller not only shows off her prowess with the bow but sing an impressive lead. Staying with vocalists featured Bradley’s assured bluegrass tones are almost heavenly on “Higher Ground”, and with Buller lending harmony vocals alongside some top class picking one could not dream to ask for more.  


                                                               Maurice Hope    

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March 2018

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