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Published: 2004/07/29
by Chris Gardner

Livin’ With the Blues – Vassar Clements

Acoustic Disc 58

Livin’ With the Blues finds veteran fiddler Vassar Clements supported by a host of musicians

who can't keep up — and Bob Brozman. Vassar isn't the world's best-loved

fiddle player for his flash or his technique but for his stark

individuality, his inability to approach a tune predictably. He may not

play the prettiest solo, but you'll always know it's Vassar. Umpteen years

into the game, he's still wildly expressive, challenging, and unique. It's

a shame then that of the eleven other players on the disc, only Brozman

brings a similar originality.

Thrice, the two play as a duo (once again with

a harmonica), and the results make you wish the ten other players would just

go away and leave these two alone. The disc is littered with staid,

anesthetized, and ultimately forgettable vocal numbers. (Special mention

should be made for a predominately instrumental duo with David Jacob-Strain,

whose guitar work seems to bring out the best in Vassar.) Beneath and

between, you'll find Vassar's fiddle and Brozman's "regular' and baritone

tricone Nationals working hard to pull the load. Brozman's moments on the

Stax standard "Green Onions" are particularly exquisite, but the original

"Fiddlin' and Faddlin'" finds the pair at their best. Vassar swaggers and

swings along while Brozman literally smacks his National around. The two

work so well together that the remaining tracks (barring "Rube's Blues" with

Jacob-Strain) become skippable nuisances as you sit there, crossing your

fingers for a Clements/ Brozman Duos record.

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