July 9, 1996
A review copy of "The David Grisman Quintet: DGQ 20--A Twenty Year Retrospective" (Acoustic Disc ACD-20) [3 CDs] arrived yesterday, and it is an extraordinary set. Each disc clocks in at over 70 minutes, with a total of 38 tracks, all previously unreleased, with a 48 page booklet with a track-by-track discussion of the music. I loaded the discs in the player late last night, planning on doing some jumping around and sampling, but couldn't bring myself to skip a track, and listened to the first two discs straight through, before finally going to bed much later than I'd wanted.
The set covers the quintet in all its incarnations, beginning with the DGQ's very first live performance in 1976 ("Cedar Hill": Tony Rice/Darol Anger/Todd Philips/Joe Carroll), and concluding with "Shalom Aleichem" in an arrangement for the current line-up (Eakle/Cora/Kerwin/Craven), recorded this past April. In between is a dream-come-true program for Grisman fans, with live and studio performances and various guests, and in sound that ranges from good to excellent. Since I can truly say that there isn't one "dog" in the entire set, it is hard to pick highlights (which is why I was up so late), but here are some anyway:
-Spain (1977, rice/anger/phillips/amatneek) Precedes the Bela Fleck version by several years.
-Tipsy Gipsy (1978, grappelli/statman/rice/diz disley/carlini/ray brown) Recorded for the never-issued soundtrack of King Of The Gipsys.
-Waiting On Vassar (1979, rice/anger/marshall/phillips) Incredible live performance.
-Dawgma & Swing '39 (1979, grappelli/marshall/o'connor/wasserman) From the Johnny Carson show.
-Ricochet & Pickin' In The Wind & Because (1981, o'connor/marshall/anger/wasserman) Live in Vancouver.
-Flatbush Waltz/Opus 57 (1981, statman/anger/glaser/marshall/wasserman) Stunning live performances.
-Albuquerque Turkey (1981, o'connor/marshall/wasserman) Studio: Dawg told o'connor to play as many choruses as he wanted, and he did 8, making this version 6:42.
-Mondo Mando (1981, Jethro Burns/anger/rice/marshall/wasserman/Kronos Quartet) One of only 2 live performances, and Burns takes a staggering solo.
-Free Dog Night (1984, buchanan/sholle/wasserman/hal blaine) A 10" free jazz jam.
-Syeeda's Song Flute (1985, vandellos/kerwin/marsh) A terrific reading of Coltrane's tune...
-Lonesome Moonlight Waltz (1986, buchanan/vandellos/kerwin/marsh) ...and a terrific reading of Monroe's tune...
-Prelude in c minor (1986, asmussen/vandellos/kerwin/marsh) ...and a terrific reading of Chopin's tune.
And I haven't even gotten to hear Disc 3 yet, which covers 1989-1996 and includes a Vassar Clements "Svingin' with Svend," Mark O'Connor & John Carlini on "Telluride" and "Opus 38," Matt Glaser on "EMD," a version of "Rattlesnake" with Rick Montgomery, and for Jerry Garcia fans, a garcia/kerwin/craven/dawg "Dawgnation," recorded in 1992.
This set is an absolute must for Dawg fans, and is a great way for those unfamiliar with him to get up to speed. The many live performances in the set are incredible for the intensity and creativity of the solos and for the imaculate precision of the ensemble work, and often allow more stretching out than the versions that are found on the respective albums, with 6, 7, 8, and 9 minute tracks common through the set.
I'll definitely be reviewing this down the road for (at least) the Chicago Tribune, but I just couldn't contain my excitement.
Click here in the Chicago Tribune