Words by Doug Deloach
Take three of the greatest dobro players on the planet, toss them together in a studio with a playlist that runs the gamut from pop hits and country songs to Tin Pan Alley tunes and gospel hymns, and you’ve got the ingredients for one of the most beautiful acoustic instrumental albums released thus far in 2014. Jerry Douglas is a 13-time Grammy winner; Rob Ickes is a perennial International Bluegrass Music Association award winner and member of Blue Highway; while Mike Auldridge was a founding member of the legendary Seldom Scene and a regular sideman with Emmylou Harris. The album is dedicated to Auldridge, who died in 2012 not long after Three Bells wrapped up. The trio’s playing is distinctly self-assured, poignantly paced and deftly swung to draw every emotional nuance from each selection.
The title-track is derived from a familiar French standard. It’s an exceptionally sweet, sophisticated representation of the trio’s masterful skills, not only in terms of individual prowess but also in the melange of counterpoint and harmony, which is carried throughout the album. Each musician performs a solo showcase, with Auldridge’s splendidly performed ‘Till There Was You/Moon River’ being arguably the best of the bunch.