Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Lester Flatt has always been fortunate not only in his own considerable talent but in the caliber of the musicians with whom he has been associated, from Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs down to Josh Graves and mandolin-player Marty Stewart, at 18 his youngest protege. Sunday night at the Baird Auditorium, Flatt was present but not very active; still, his presence made some very memorable bluegrass music happen.
Flatt's current group, the Nashville Grass, may be technically the strongest he has ever worked with - strong enough to let him take it easy and still produce a great show. The program was shared with Josh Graves and the Boys from Shiloh (a good though less impressive group than Flatt's, with a fantastic dobro player at their head), and between them the two groups demonstrated nearly everything good that can happen in the blugrass style.
IN the dobro department, for example, the contrast between Graves and Charley Nixon, Flatt's current dobro player, was striking; Graves stole the spotlight whenever he took the stage (notably in some duets with Flatt), but in his quiet, team-oriented way, Nixon was an impressive musically as Graves was in pure technique.
The newest member of the Flatt group, fiddler Benny Martin, is not yet integrated into the ensemble (he has been with them less than a week), but his solos were brilliant, notably in an "Orange Blossom Special" that seemed to include a few bits from "Hora Staccato."