David Grisman has had so many outstanding bands and individual players that it is hard to mourn the departure of any one musician, as his replacement inevitably reveals special skills of his own. But it is hard to be the mandolinist's early quintet with guitarist Tony Rice, violinist Darol Anger, mandolinist Mike Marshall, and bassist Todd Phillips. Each of the four men left to lead their own groups, though the band reunited in 2001 for a 25th anniversary concert in Tacoma, Washington. They revisit eight songs from the eponymous The David Grisman Quintet LP and several others from Dawg's vast canon, still sounding like they had been playing together regularly for all those years. It's simply impossible to pick favorite tracks, as many of the songs have become a lasting part of Grisman's performing repertoire over the years, though the crowd-pleasing "EMD," "Blue Midnite," Rice's sublime "Swing '51," and the extended, energetic workout of "Dawg's Rag" are sure to please Grisman's fans. They also revisit the gypsy swing gem "Minor Swing" (by Django Reinhardt and Stéphane Grappelli) and launch into a wild, long version of Artie Traum's "Fish Scale" in which Anger nearly steals the show. The quintet goes out in style with a furious take of Grisman's "Dawg's Bull." Fans of David Grisman will eagerly anticipate future releases from his vast personal library of concert recordings after hearing this inspired reunion of his early quintet.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden