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Tiny Moore & Jethro Burns: Back To Back (2005)

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Tiny Moore & Jethro Burns: Back To Back How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

In October of 2004, the thirteen alternate takes of this album were discovered by label owner/master mandolinist David Grisman, who provided the material to augment this reissue of the original 1979 session. It was a first meeting for the two best-known mandolin players largely known for their respective work in country music.

Tiny Moore, who died in 1987, performed as a regular with Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys doing Western swing in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He developed a unique single-string electric solid-body mandolin with an added fifth string. Jethro Burns was far better known to the public as half of the musical parody team of Homer & Jethro, who delighted country audiences for decades and had a nationwide Top 10 pop hit in 1959 with "The Battle of New Orleans." Burns died in 1989.

For their 1979 meeting, Moore and Burns are joined by rhythm guitarist Eldon Shamblin plus the unlikely combination of legendary bassist Ray Brown and drummer Shelly Manne. Grisman himself sits in on mandolin on three tracks. Although the two leaders were not widely known for their work as so-called jazz mandolinists, Moore had, in fact, spent his years with Bob Wills developing his skills, and on a 1960 recording, Playing It Straight, Homer & Jethro dazzled with their album of instrumental standards displaying previously unknown jazz chops.

The tunes are comprised of originals, standards, and songs from Django Reinhardt, Wes Montgomery, Dizzy Gillespie, and Lester Young. The music itself is low-key, relaxed, and quite enjoyable. If you've sampled albums from Acoustic Disc Records, you'll know that this is typical of the label's output; the accomplished pickers have some fun with these compositions paired with premier bass and drums accompanyment. Jazz enthusiasts will be delighted to hear, on both the Ellington "In A Mellotone" and Lester Young's "Tickle Toe," the melody statement from one mandolin while the other performs the exact horn riffs from the Ellington/Basie arrangement of the late 1930s/early 1940s.

After hearing this album, one can put the work of Tiny Moore & Jethro Burns in better perspective with the history of jazz guitar from Eddie Lang to Wes Montgomery.


Track Listing: Back To Back, Diane, In A Mellotone, Real Laid Back, Flickin' My Pick, Moonlight Waltz, Jethro's Tune, Swing '39, Out Of Nowhere, Tickle Toe, Tiny's Rag, Groovin' High, Maiden's Prayer + alternate takes on all titles.

Personnel: Tiny Moore, electric 5-string Mandolin, Mandolin; Jethro Burns, Mandolin; Eldon Shamblin, Rhythm Guitar; Ray Brown, Bass; Shelly Manne, Drums; David Grisman, Mandolin (on "Moonlight Waltz", "Tiny's Rag" & "Maiden's Prayer".

Record Label: Acoustic Disc

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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