Friday is the release day for Accomplice Series Vol. 1, the new EP from guitar wizard Tommy Emmanuel with Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley. It features these three virtuoso instrumentalists in a spontaneous, free wheeling recording, capturing them without careful arrangements and detailed planning. Roll the tape, play the guitars.
To celebrate, they have offered to share this live video from the sessions for Copper Kettle, one of the tunes that Tommy suggested when they first sat down to record. This song has been a folk staple since the mid-20th century, and a guitar jam tune since Chet Atkins popularized it in the 1960s.
Emmanuel explained him selecting Rob and Trey for his debut Accomplice Series project, meant to highlight some of the artists that he admires and enjoys.
“I have been a fan of Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley for a long time. I love working with them. There’s a lot of creativity around us, and those guys are willing to just fly it. I need people like that to just bounce off and have a creative time with.”
If you have ever caught Tommy Emmanuel live with other players, you know that he is a champion improviser, who loves the back and forth with others who can follow his lead. There have been memorable shows with fellow guitarist and David Grisman alum, Frank Vignola, and Rob & Trey have had multiple opportunities to do the same.
“Well, it’s always great to work with Tommy,” says Ickes. “He’s such a great artist, and such a great person. There are always a lot of sparks flying when we play together, and all three of us are into lots of different musical genres, so that’s always fun to explore different musical territories when we get together.”
Trey says that the spirit of levity shown in the video pervaded everything they cut together.
“Getting to pick with Tommy and Rob any time is always a blast! Working in the studio with Tommy was so much fun, which I think is evident throughout this EP. The great vibe in the studio that day is prominent in the recordings. It was really just the three of us hanging out and playing tunes…what could be more fun?”
The full EP contains four tracks recorded in this same fashion. Two, Flatt Did It and Copper Kettle, were done with all three, and the others as duets, as Tommy explains…
“The reason I recorded two songs as a trio is to feature both the guys, and for us to do that. And then I wanted a song each with Rob and Trey. There would have been nothing for Rob to do in Raz-Ma-Taz Polka. It’s just me and Trey. And then in It’s Never Too Late, Rob and I have everything covered in that song, so there would have been nothing for Trey to do. That’s how that came about.”
Accomplice Series Vol. 1 will be available May 7 wherever you stream or download music online.