David Grisman & Guests
For as long as I've had my own household, David Grisman ("Dawg") has been an essential part of its soundtrack. Sure, I was familiar with his part on The Even Dozen Jug Band, but it was later, with Muleskinner, The Rounder Album and the now distinct opening licks on "E.M.D.," the first track on the seminal David Grisman Quintet (DGQ) album, that Grisman's music was etched in my mind. Through the years, it has always been worth checking up on Dawg as he ebbs and flows among the most talented acoustic musicians to be found. He's been a generational bridge (Jethro Burns, Dave Apollon, Stephane Grapelli), but just as important has been his role as a stylistic bridge (bluegrass, jazz and his own 'Dawg music'). Recent years have produced some outstanding releases, even by the Grisman yardstick: Not For Kids Only (with Jerry Garcia), Doc & Dawg (with Doc Watson), & Retrograss (with Mike Seeger & John Hartford). Add Dawg Duos to the list with a dozen instrumentals that consistently add up to more than the sum of their parts. Grisman and Hal Blaine add a rhythmic sparkle to "Buttons and Bows." Bryan Bowers contributes autoharp for "Mandoharp Fantasy," and Mike Seeger adds banjo for "John Johanna." And now the generational bridge extends to the opposite shore, with Dawg Duos offering 11-year-old Julian Lage's debut recording as guitarist on "Old Souls." Other cuts also had my jaw dropping: Zakir Hussain, Bob Brozman and Bela Fleck will do that to you. - Richard Dorsett
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