Mel Bay 9780786684533. CD included, 88 pp., $22.99. (Mel Bay Publications, #4 Industrial Dr., Pacific, MO 63069,

It’s early in the year, so there’s still plenty of time to get ready for this summer’s festival jam sessions. This book will help you get there. Besides being a talented bluegrass and jazz mandolinist, author Dix Bruce also has years of teaching experience and it shows here. I’m always enthusiastic about a book where you can tell the author put a lot of work into it and Dix clearly has.

He has taken forty classic bluegrass jam songs and created solos for them. He’s also recorded them on the enclosed CD, which I recommend listening to along with the tab. (For some reason, Mel Bay still insists on standard notation accompanying tab, which may help some people.) But what makes this book different from a lot of others is the commentary introduction to each song where Dix mentions particular points of technique and style. So, you’re not just learning songs, you’re learning techniques that can improve your overall playing.

I have no doubt that even an intermediate player will get some great ideas from this book. Highly recommended for any parking-lot picker who wants to up their game.CVS

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