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CD REVIEW: Jerry Wicentowski "Lucky Break"

by Jaanus Vainu at Bluegrass Radio, Tallinn, Estonia

Jerry Wicentowski
LUCKY BREAK
WizGrass Records 00001 CD
(self-released)
1998

1. Live and Let Live (Walker/Sullivan)
2. Sweet is The Melody (Iris DeMent)
3. Tempest of A Jealous Love (Tim O'Brien)
4. Little Maggie (arr. Ralph Stanley)
5. They All Faded Away (Iris DeMent)
6. Lucky Break (Dunn/Tashian/Tashian)
7. Venom Wearing Denim (Jamieson Brown)
8. Conversation in The Womb (Abie Rotenberg)
9. Less and Less (Tim O'Brien)
10. Dream of The Miner's Child (Andrew Jenkins)
11. Mary of The Wild Moor (William York)
12. Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On (Wallace/Wells)

MUSICIANS:
Jerry Wicentowski - lead vocals, guitar
Tim O'Brien - tenor vocals
Byron Berline - fiddle
Andy Statman - mandolin
Scott Vestal - banjo
Mark Hembree - bass, baritone vocals

Many of you probably know that I like to discover new artists and
independent self-released bluegrass and related CDs. Here's another one
of these. And surprisingly VERY, VERY strong one!

You look at the list of musicians in this project (listed above). Sure,
these names do not need any comments. Only the main artist himself is
unknown to many of you (and was also for me). Yes, it is his debut
recording. But done just right on the nail! Do not think that the
strength of this recording is only because of these famous musicians.
No, they are only supporting musicians. They are of course doing perfect
work but the most surprising are still Jerry Wicentowski's vocals here.
There's few such powerful vocalists in bluegrass music today. There's
James King, Russell Moore, Dudley Connell and some others. There's also
Paul Williams (although he has not got enough attention he deserves).
And now there's Jerry Wicentowski, too. Oh man, his vocals are just so
powerful as Paul Williams' and even the tone and licks in Jerry's vocals
remind me very much just exactly Paul Williams.

But Jerry still do not copy any of these "big names" in his singing. On
this new CD "Lucky Break" we can find very interesting song selection
(see above) and every one of them has got somewhat unique strong
bluegrass arrangement. There's no weak cut on Jerry's CD and I only wish
it had more cuts on it! Every song is different there and thoroughly
enjoyable. All done in strong and powerful mood in VERY ENTHUSIASTIC
bluegrass style. There's the same optimism and well-mood as in example
the Gibson Brothers or Sand Mountain Band CDs have. In every point Jerry
sings there just all from his heart and this will sure draw the
listeners attention. Even I, during listening this CD, stopped all of my
other thoughts as this music hooked me completely.

Especially I like to express my appreciation of the free, relaxed, live
feeling of this project. Many bluegrass albums today lack the natural
power, shine and joy -- they are perfectly played and recorded but sound
just plain and dry. They are so-called "overproduced". One such example
(sorry for my direct critics - but I must say all out what I think) is
NBB's recordings. If you will compare the song "Red Clay Halo" performed
by Valerie Smith (independent release) and NBB then you can hear the
difference and understand what I mean here. One has soul in it but the
other not. Somehow just independently released CDs have much better free
"feeling". Of course, there are exceptions, like above-referred Paul
Williams CD, James King, Third Tyme Out and many others.

Also, Jerry Wicentowski's "Lucky Break" CD has high-quality audio
recording, fine and very colorful CD package design (all the 4 pages are
printed in full color and the cover image is really up to the highest
computer graphics quality standards. It's very rare thing with
independent releases!

This project is surely one of the most shining and powerful true
bluegrass albums released during some latest years! At least what I have
heard so long (but I have heard a lot of bluegrass CDs during last
years). And even more surprising is to find such very strong recording
from singer previously unknown in wider bluegrass circle. Where had he
been all these years before???
I understand well how hard is it to get a solid national breakthrough
for any independent artist and independent CD there in USA. But this one
deserves it!

Also, it was very nice for me to find one of my all-time favorite
singers, Tim O'Brien, on this CD! Yes, Tim can really nail down
everything and he does it also here with his vocals which are matching
ideally in duet with Jerry W. !!!

Why not to vote for Jerry Wicentowski in "emerging artist of the year"
category?
Buy this CD, it is good one! County Sales has it also.

Jaanus Vainu
___________________________________
BGR (BlueGrassRoots/BlueGrassRadio)
Roopa 18-1, Tallinn, 10136, ESTONIA
Email BGR@BGR.ee  Web http://BGR.ee
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