I was listening recently to some of my old vinyl recordings, including a cluster of albums by the great fiddlers Kenny Baker and Byron Berline. They were distinguished by a consistently high level of sweet and proficient fiddling, a wide-ranging assortment of interesting tunes, and support from a talented array of pickers whose collective focus was on playing great tunes and playing them well.
It’s nice to report that the new release by fiddler Corrina Rose Logston, the latest in the seemingly endless procession of gifted young musicians being recorded by Tom Mindte for Patuxent Records, leaves the same impression on the ear. Simply and aptly entitled Bluegrass Fiddler, this CD features 14 tracks that allow her to display her chops without eclipsing the beauty of the tunes she plays.
She skillfully finds a balance between familiar and obscure material. “Highlander’s Farewell,” “Soppin’ The Gravy,” and “Snowflake Breakdown” (often referred to as “Snowflake Reel”) are as close as she comes to covering instrumental standard repertoire. Among the more novel tunes she’s recorded are traditional numbers such as “Wilson’s Hornpipe” and “Laughing Boy,” but perhaps more importantly her two original contributions, “Honeycat Hornpipe” and “Sandridge,” easily stand their ground among the older tunes.
While packaged as a fiddler’s album, Logston generously shares the spotlight with a fine cast of supportive pickers. Banjoist Kurt Stephenson, guitarist Jeremy Stephens, mandolinists David McLaughlin and Casey Campbell, and bassist P.J. George all sound like they’re equally committed to helping to make the tunes and the fiddler shine. And breaking up the parade of mid- to up-tempo fiddle tunes is a pair of vocals, “Foggy Mountain Top” and “I Don’t Blame You,” on which she shows her solid singing skills, plus a pair of waltzes, “Whispering Hope” and “Junior Jump Waltz.”
Corrina Rose Logston has released a debut recording that honors the many great fiddlers who have influenced her and others. (Patuxent Music, P.O. Box 572, Rockville, MD 20848, www.pxrec.com.)HK