Aussie ex-pat Tommy Emmanuel and his brother Phil taught themselves to play at a very early age.
A meeting turned jam session with his guitar hero Chet Atkins bolstered his confidence. By the mid-1980’s, he went it alone, making instrumental guitar records, a move that was bold and against trends of the time (and since).
His CV now stretches over twenty albums, two Grammy nominations, two ARIA awards (Australia), Guitar Player awards, numerous magazine polls naming him the greatest acoustic guitarist alive, he’s played with Atkins, Eric Clapton, Doc Watson and John Denver. Pretty impressive. He is also unofficial ambassador of Melbourne-made Maton guitars, with his Signature TE instrument.
Accomplice One is an album of collaborations with some of Emmanuel’s favorite artists. It took two years to record the album. The artists who stepped forward to join were Jason Isbell, Mark Knopfler, Rodney Crowell, Jerry Douglas, Amanda Shires, Ricky Skaggs, David Grisman, Bryan Sutton, Suzy Bogguss, Jorma Kaukonen, Jake Shimabukuro, J.D. Simo, Charlie Cushman, Clive Carroll, Pat Bergeson, Frank Vignola, Vinny Raniolo, and Jack Pearson.
The Track List
1. “Deep River Blues” with Jason Isbell
2. “Song and Dance Man” with Ricky Skaggs
3. “Saturday Night Shuffle” with Jorma Kaukonen and Pat Bergeson
4. “Wheelin’ and Dealin’” with J.D. Simo & Charlie Cushman
5. “C-Jam Blues” with David Grisman & Bryan Sutton
6. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” with J.D. Simo
7. “Borderline” with Amanda Shires
8. “You Don’t Want To Get You One Of Those” with Mark Knopfler
9. “Keepin’ It Reel” with Clive Carroll
10. “Looking Forward To The Past” with Rodney Crowell
11. “Purple Haze” with Jerry Douglas
12. “Rachel’s Lullaby” with Jake Shimabukuro
13. “Djangology” with Frank Vignola & Vinny Raaniolo
14. “Watson Blues” with David Grisman & Bryan Sutton
15. “Tittle Tattle” with Jack Pearson
16. “The Duke’s Message” with Suzy Bogguss
What a treat this is.
Tommy Emmanuel is known as a guitarist with amazing fluidity, creativity and delicacy. Accomplice One puts all the technical virtuosity into wonderful context, with the songs/instrumentals and the act of colluding itself providing a musically balanced context. The guests are pivotal – not only due to the weight of their reputations, but the enormous inspiration they bring. There are times when you can hear Emmanuel and his buddies passing joyous exchanges and it is infectious for the listener as well. I do question the inclusion of the reggae-infused take on “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, but that is nit picking when compared with the other fifteen masterful contributions.
Highlights are the reverential “Deep River Blues” (with Isbell and made famous by Doc Watson), Skaggs’s take on “Song and Dance Man” (written by Australian Mike McCelland), the two electrifying tracks with Grisman and Sutton (“C Jam Blues” and “Watson Blues”), the biting “Looking Forward To The Past” (Crowell) and the incendiary duel of “Purple Haze” with dobro maestro Douglas.
In Accomplice One, Tommy Emmanuel’s CV just got even a little better – incredible fun.