Mandolin hero and devoted Bill Monroe conservationist Mike Compton has released a new single from his upcoming album, Rare & Fine – Uncommon Tunes of Bill Monroe, expected in early March.
The project is just what the title implies, a collection of new recordings of Bill Monroe instrumentals that are either infrequently heard or played, along with several that have not previously been recorded.
This first single is one such, titled Orange Blossom Breakdown, which Mike says he got from someone who recorded it from an Opry broadcast in the 1940s.
“I was drawn to it because I’ve never heard him do anything quite like it, and I’ve never heard it since. It’s a very unusual arrangement for Monroe. It had to be on the project.”
Compton brought in Michael Cleveland, Laura Orshaw, and Shad Cobb on triple fiddles, with Jeremy Stephens on guitar, Russ Carson on banjo, Mike Bub on bass, and himself on mandolin. Theirs is a spirited take capturing the sort of raw energy that typified the early Monroe recordings, even with the odd key change.
As always, Mike channels Big Mon to a degree that few others can accomplish, perhaps unsurprising given his current vocation for teaching others the importance and the intricacies of the style through his annual Monroe Mandolin Camp.
Have a listen…
Orange Blossom Breakdown is available for digital download from the Mike Compton web site, where pre-orders for Rare & Fine are also enabled. Delivery for CDs will be on March 4. There is also a tab book containing all the mandolin tunes on the album.
The single can also be purchased from popular download and streaming services online. Radio programmers will find the tracks at AirPlay Direct.