David Grisman's self-named "Dawg" music defies traditional categories, as it is such a unique blend of many influences, including bluegrass, jazz, gypsy music, Latin, and so much more. He's joined by flutist Matt Eakle, percussionist and violinist Joe Craven, bassist Jim Kerwin, and guitarist Rick Montgomery. The veteran mandolinist wrote six of the eight songs, starting with the cheerful opener, which features everyone in turn. The intricate waltz "Dawgmatism" adds an exotic flavor with Craven's violin and Eakle's haunting flute. "Jazzin' (With Joe-Bob)" is a wild masterpiece (later appearing in slightly different form on his compilation DGQ-20 with jazz DJ Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins as "Jazzin' With Jazzbeaux"), with Craven providing percussion on bongos (and vocals with assorted hisses and comments) as well as overdubbing a slashing violin solo. "Steppin' With Stephane" was originally recorded by Grisman with its honoree, jazz violin great Stephane Grappelli. This version is lighter but every bit as swinging. "Bolero de Django," composed by Django Reinhardt, has a definite gypsy air, though Eakle's alto flute gives the piece a more modern flavor. "New Dawg's Rag" is an updated arrangement of an earlier Grisman chart; while the instrumentation has been changed, the impact of this brilliant performance is still pure magic. Throughout this release, Grisman's playing is nothing short of phenomenal. It should come as no surprise that fans of David Grisman should consider this CD an essential purchase.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden