Fiddler Darol Anger and mandolinist Mike Marshall have been making music together for 20 years, beginning with their associations with acoustic pioneer David Grisman and moving through their own groundbreaking newgrass works, both with each other and in other ensembles. The Duo Live captures highlights of several of the pair's duo sets in the fall of 2001. Contained on the disc, first and foremost, is a musical intimacy that can only be gained from a lifetime of making music together. Anger and Marshall's instruments move as one, building volume or dropping to a whisper, gaining or decreasing speed together. It is evident throughout, from the spitfire deep groove of "Gator Strut" to the more ethereal, meditational readings given to "In The Pines" and Bill Monroe's ponderous "Jerusalem Ridge" (which occupies much the same space as Grisman's epic "Arabia"). The two are also particularly effective at creating a sound much larger than the sum of its parts, mostly thanks to a forcefully strong and sympathetic rhythmic sense each player contains. Unfortunately, the disc hardly breaks any new ground, so far as the genre goes, though it certainly serves as a fine exemplar of what it is capable of. The two are more than capable of creating engaging improvisations that break free of the songs' structures, but rarely do. When they do, such as on "Frogs On Ice," the results are magical.
AllMusic Review by Jesse Jarnow