If you’ve been following bluegrass as long as your humble correspondent, you’ll have watched Carl Jackson go from a skinny kid playing banjo with Jim & Jesse as a teenager in the late 1960s, to one of the most respected songwriters and producers in Nashville. Along the way he worked with Glen Campbell on his hit TV show in the 1970s, and toured with Campbell’s band.
Jackson wasn’t just an honorable mention banjo picker back in the day, though you rarely find him with one these days. His intricate arrangement of Orange Blossom Special threw the 5 string world for a loop when it was included on Bill Monroe’s live album (Bean Blossom) in 1973, and thrust him to the forefront of the burgeoning list of melodic/chromatic style banjo players pushing the envelope of 3 finger style.
And is was as an instrumentalist that Carl served Campbell on television, stepping in for John Hartford when he left the show, appearing in what had become a trademark segment of the program, just the two of them playing acoustic music. These episodes launched a career for Hartford, and provided a springboard for Jackson as well.
But while we may read regularly these days about Jackson’s many contributions in the studio, current fans may not be aware of his particular skills as a picker. Fortunately, that is about to change with the release of Grace Notes, an album of classic hymns for guitar, the first release on the newly formed Voxhall Records.
Carl includes 12 Gospel favorites, like How Great Thou Art, I’ll Fly Away, Whispering Hope, and The Old Rugged Cross, each performed on a different guitar for which he has some special fondness, many of them vintage or antique instruments.
The CD is being released in both a standard and Artist Special package, with the difference being additional audio for the Artist Special where Carl talks about each of the guitars in turn prior to the track on which they are played. This edition also includes expanded liner notes.
Voxhall head Jimmy Metts, who co-produced with Jackson and engineered the sessions, tells us that this project started about 10 years ago, but lay fallow for some time after the first track was recorded. He shared this sample of the audio where Carl broaches that topic.
Grace Notes is available now from CD Baby, Amazon and iTunes.