Customer Reviews: Back To Back
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on March 1, 2005
"Back To Back" presents music that resulted from an historic 1979 summit of two superb jazz mandolinists, Tiny Moore and Jethro Burns. Both were 59 years old at the time and full of maturity and vitality in their playing. This 2004 release includes a second disc of previously unreleased alternate takes and a bonus track ("Maiden's Prayer"). At the session, Moore and Burns were accompanied by some stellar musicians -- Eldon Shamblin (guitar), Ray Brown (bass) and Shelly Manne (drums). Producer David Grisman also plays on three tunes (Moonlight Waltz, Tiny's Rag, Maiden's Prayer), and the third mandolin imparts a powerful intensity particularly on the slower tunes.

During his fifty years in the business, Jethro Burns made a big name for himself as half of the comedy duo Homer & Jethro. His playing is distinctive and picturesque. Texan Tiny Moore began working with western swing legend Bob Wills in 1946 and created his own unique style on a 5-string, solid-body electric mandolin. The 1979 recording session marked the first meeting of these legendary mando-giants, and you can hear the excitement in their playing.

The title cut, "Back to Back," comes from the repertoire of Wes Montomery. Tiny's electric flair blends nicely with Jethro's unparalleled acoustic sense. The interpretive twists added along the way supplant some tunes with new life (like jazzy progressions Bill Monroe's "Moonlight Waltz"). They push the envelope on a number of jazz standards. A dazzling display of gypsy jazz permeates a cover of the Reinhardt/Grappelli favorite "Swing '39," while the two masters take Duke Ellington's "In a Mellotone" and Count Basie's "Tickle Toe" to places these songs have never been before. Impressively virtuosic playing is the trademark of this recording. Perhaps the most illustrious offerings are their own originals. With their veteran sidemen, they romp through "Jethro's Tune" and "Flickin' My Pick," both certainly jaw-dropping performances. Their improvisational skills are something everyone should appreciate and study closely. Moore's poignant "Real Laid Back" and bouncy "Tiny's Rag" are similarly breathtaking.

The recently discovered alternate takes that comprise the second disc reveal "golden insight into what made these cats swing so hard," as jazz mandolinist Don Stiernberg writes in the liner notes. A bit of laughing and chatting on disc two, and their variations on the themes allow us to further study this music. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)
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on April 14, 2014
Two phenomenal talents are front and center here, but the whole production is first-rate as well with outstanding backup musicians and a great choice of tunes. Fans of swing music will be enchanted.
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on June 25, 2013
Any fan of the playing of Moore and Burns will greatly appreciate this CD. Excellent choice of tunes, and played in their own styles. Highly recommended for anyone who plays mandolin, guitar, or swing violin. Licks plus.
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