CD reviews

Monday, July 8, 2002

Up All Night

Pete Wernick's Live Five

Let's see. There's a clarinet, vibes, drums, electric bass and a banjo.

And that's supposed to be bluegrass?

Believe it or not, yes � to some extent.

Usually when bluegrass is blended with other genres, it gets lost in the stew. Often, you can taste everything but bluegrass.

But Dr. Banjo's picking has a jalapeno touch. Wernick formed the Live Five, a bluegrass-jazz band, in 1992, a couple of years after leaving Hot Rize, the seminal bluegrass band of the '80s. And with a decade of experience under its belt, this band really cooks with a lively, energetic sound that is unmistakably bluegrass and jazz.

Wernick wrote seven of the songs including "Owensboro Hop," a lively, bouncy number, and the galloping "On A Roll.".

But there are some classic remakes too � Earl Scruggs' "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "Foggy Mountain Special" and such songs from the 1920s as "Alabamy Bound" and "Sweet Georgia Brown."

The Pioneers of Bluegrass: Featuring 20 of Bluegrass Music's Greatest Hits

Various Artists

OK, it's a CMH album. And the label is notorious for its overblown titles.

But even if most of the material on here isn't among "bluegrass music's greatest hits," there's still some good music here.

Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys perform a powerful version of "With Body and Soul." And Monroe talks about the influence of his uncle Pendleton Vandiver before picking "Going Across The Sea."

Highlights include The Seldom Scene's "Little Georgia Rose" and The Stoneman Family's "Tupelo County Jail."

There are no liner notes with this collection. It would be nice to know when the songs were recorded and who played on them.