(David Grisman, mandolin; Jim Kerwin, doublebass; Matt Earle, flute/bass flute/penny whistle; Enrique Corea, acoustic guitars; George Marsh, drums/percussion)
This recent release from David Grisman’s own record label celebrates 30 years of Dawg Music. What’s Dawg Music, you ask? Well, it’s the mandolinist/guitarist’s highly individual take on the world of acoustic string music – combining elements of bluegrass, jazz, gypsy jazz, country, various folk musics, and what-have-you. It’s mostly upbeat and often has a great sense of humor, and to my ears is lots more fun than straight bluegrass, folk or other roots music. Over those years such music lights as Darol Anger, Tony Rice, Bela Fleck, Vassar Clements, Jerry Garcia, Stephane Grappelli, Mike Marshall, Mark O’Connor, Earl Scruggs, Martin Taylor and Svend Asmussen have played in the Dawg Music Quintet. The sound of the group may remind some of Bela Fleck’s current band, but without the electronics and with less funk/soul influence.
Grisman says these ten originals are the group’s most eclectic outing yet. Gory French melodramas of yore are the subject of La Grand Guignole, Zambola is a samba given the Dawg treatment – with guitarist Corea’s South American origin placing him in good standing, Limestones tries to bridge the gap between trad and modern jazz, and George Marsh’s Waltz is a moving tune in tribute to his beloved daughter who passed away at age 15 of cystic fibrosis. Grisman is very proud of the sonic quality of the CD, recorded – as as most of his projects – direct to two-track analog. He’s right – all the instruments have an amazing presence/realism; I can imagine this disc getting a lot of plays at audio shows.
TrackList: Limestones, La Grande Guignole, Ella McDonnell, Waltz for Lucy, Zambola, Tracy’s Tune, Dawg’s Groove, Cinderella’s Fella, My Friend Dawg, Blues for Vassar.
– John Henry