Inspired by the music of the great Kenny Baker
long-time fiddler for Bill Monroe and member of eastern Kentucky’s true vine of traditional fiddle music, Boyd Deering wrote these pieces.
He enlisted the able fiddle of Jim Wood, a masterful instrumentalist, and Jim’s wife, Inge, to perform these dozen tunes. The pieces are highly developed and capture the essence of Baker’s best work without being derivative. Jim Wood is up to the task of performing these sophisticated pieces, as they move through the paces of playing in different positions, time signatures, and bowings.
From the opening cut, “Little Jewel” we are treated to sounds that could easily have been made by Baker in his prime. The bowings and techniques that Wood brings to these performances are beyond the average fiddler. While touting in the liner notes about adding to the repertory of middle Tennessee old-time fiddle tunes, it will be an elite group that masters these tunes at the level they are performed here.
In addition to fiddle, Jim Wood plays several guitars, bouzouki, and bass. Inge plays rhythm guitar and Deering plays mandolin, octave mandolin, and harmonica. This is not bluegrass instrumentation, but this music is not outside the realm of bluegrass. Calling it old-time is to acknowledge that there are two worlds of old-time music. These tunes belong to the group that is based upon a tradition of fiddle contests with its ever-rising bar of excellence in performance.
There are great titles and strong tunes to go with them. Deering’s imagination and muse is rich. The waltz “Snowfall On Clover” is a moving piece. “Lafayette” recalls several other reels while having the strength of character to hold its own with the tradition. “Boomerang” would make a good bluegrass instrumental. With its sneaky time and blues-edged swing, it is a real launch pad for improvisation. This is one of most satisfying programs of original fiddles tunes to come a long in a while. (Boyd Deering, 705 Coolidge Road, Lafayette, TN 37083.)RCB