John Munnerlyn & Lee Jeffries

Guitar In Perspective
Old-Pro Records
John Munnerlyn & Lee Jeffries

For savvy record collectors, this CD should jump off the rack, with its cover homage to The Swinging Guitar Of Tal Farlow – not to mention Munnerlyn’s National California archtop (a ’53) and Jeffries’ Wright Custom double-eight pedal steel (a ’65). Flip the digipak over, and you’ll probably be laying down the dough, once you see John’s ’60s Carvin mando/guitar doubleneck.

The duo is based out of the Bay Area, and familiar names like Brian Godchaux (fiddler with Dan Hicks and Jerry Garcia) and Hank Maninger (bassist with Bonnie Hayes, the Aqua Velvets, and Hacienda Brothers) crop up here.

The roots of the all-instrumental, all-original program are in Western swing – which isn’t surprising considering Jeffries is an alumnus of Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys. He lists Joaquin Murphy, Speedy West, and Vance Terry as major influences, while Munnerlyn names Chet Atkins, Jimmy Bryant, and Charlie Christian among the “too numerous to mention.”

Lest you think their attention to detail is limited to guitar collecting and cover graphics, they deliver the goods in the grooves, too – from Lee’s “Blues For Earl” (a beautiful ballad that’s not blues) to John’s “Chester’s Mule,” displaying Chet’s influence, as does “Mercy Street” (along with a Hank Williams vibe).

The album ends on low-key note with the acoustic “I Lost You,” featuring Jeffries on Dobro. A tasty finish leaving the listener ready for a second set.

This article originally appeared in VG’s Jul. ’10 issue.  All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine.  Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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