Jerry Garcia / David Grisman

So What

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Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and David Grisman were friends for over 30 years. On an occasional basis they would get together and jam, and Grisman would tape the results. Sometimes they would play rock, folk music, country, or free improvisation, but the music on this CD put out by Grisman's Acoustic Disc label is strictly straight-ahead jazz. Joined by two (or sometimes three) sidemen from the mandolinist's regular band (bassist Jim Kerwin, Joe Craven on percussion, and, on two numbers, flutist Matt Eakle), the co-leaders perform three versions of "So What," two apiece of "Bag's Groove" and "Milestones," and one of Grisman's "16/16." Garcia is quite credible as a jazz improviser without attempting to be a virtuoso; he apparently loved the music and does not sound at all like a rock player. The versatile Grisman effectively updates his swing style, and the rhythm section is driving and supportive despite being quite light in volume. Even with the repetition of titles (only the last version of "So What" sounds like a rehearsal rather than a regular recording session), the music holds one's interest throughout. A nice surprise that is well worth checking out.

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