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Mark O'Connor, Mark O'Connor Thirty Year Retrospective (OMAC-5)
Mark O'Connor is an amazing talent. He picked up a violin at 11; little more than a year later, he was the top fiddler in the country for his age. His fluid playing and improvisational skills made him one of Nashville's top session musicians throughout the 1980s and early '90s. He then changed directions and began working with cellist Yo-Yo Ma ("Appalachia Waltz") and his own jazzy Hot Swing Trio. Now 42, O'Connor captures his 30-year recording career via a series of concerts held in Nashville before a reverent audience. Aided by wonder kid mandolinist Chris Thile (Nickel Creek), guitarist Bryan Sutton and bassist Byron House, O'Connor burns it up on this pristine-sounding two-CD collection. The songs here capture both O'Connor's amazing versatility and progression as a musician -- check out his first composition, "Pickin' in the Wind" then compare it to the Hot Swing-era pieces -- as well as his innate and dignified charm onstage. A real keeper.