Bryan Sutton and Friends. “ Almost Live.” Sugar Hill. 10 tracks.

Bryan Sutton has been one of the top guitarists in bluegrass and country music for 14 years now — since he joined Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder in 1995.

And the International Bluegrass Music Association has named Sutton its guitar player of the year five times — 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Only Tony Rice has won it more times (six).

By 1999, Sutton had tired of life on the road and decided to spend his time with session work in Nashville — playing on albums by Dolly Parton, the Dixie Chicks, Jerry Douglas, Earl Scruggs and a lot more.

But he has occasionally toured through the years, such as Chris Thile’s 2007 “How To Grow A Band” tour and the recent “Bluegrass Sessions” tour.

“Almost Live,” the Asheville, N.C., native’s first album in three years, brings together a lot of friends to make some great music — some of it bluegrass.

The liner notes say the album “manages to stay very much grounded in bluegrass even as he strides ever forward toward the new American acoustic music he and his gifted friends are forging.”

There are a lot of “gifted friends” on this album.

The opening cut, Sutton’s “Morning Top,” features Béla  Fleck, Mark Schatz, Sam Bush, Stuart Duncan and Jerry Douglas.

Thile’s “How To Grow A Band” group reunites for “Big Island Hornpipe,” a tune written by Thile and Sutton.

Sutton and Fleck perform a guitar-banjo duet on “Rye Straw Suite,” a tune they co-wrote.

The surviving members of Hot Rize join Sutton on Norman Blake’s “Church Street Blues” and the traditional “Kitchen Girl.”

Dennis Crouch, Aubrey Haynie and Jeff Taylor (on accordion) sit in on Sutton’s “Le Pont De La Moustache” and “Loretta’s Waltz.”

Russ Barenberg joins Sutton for a guitar duet on “Dark Island.”

Crouch, Duncan and Tim O’Brien join in on Sutton’s “Wonder Valley Gals.”

And Thile and Sutton perform a duet on The Delmore Brothers “Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar” with Sutton singing lead.

A good album. But don’t buy it expecting traditional bluegrass.

Can’t find it in stores? Try www.sugarhillrecords.com.

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