Live at Jazz Alley 11/3/07

David Grisman Quintet

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Live at Jazz Alley 11/3/07 Review

by Ken Dryden

The second of two nights featuring the David Grisman Quintet at Jazz Alley mixes old favorites from earlier albums dating back to the founding of the band in the 1970s and new material. The lineup includes the leader on mandolin, longtime bassist Jim Kerwin, and veteran Matt Eakle on flute, along with drummer George Marsh (who returned to the band in 2006) and guitarist Frank Vignola. "EMD" has long been one of the most requested pieces during Grisman's career and the quintet dives full force into it to open the show. It's not often that the mandolinist plays a 17-plus-minute medley in concert, though this occasion combines tributes he wrote for three different masters of jazz violin, each of whom recorded the piece honoring him with Grisman. The wistful "Blues for Vassar" salutes Vassar Clements, while the upbeat swinger "Steppin' with Stephane" honors St├ęphane Grappelli, with whom Grisman not only toured but performed the music for the film King of the Gypsies (which the mandolinist also composed). The breezy "Swingin' with Svend," honoring the Danish jazz violinist Svend Asmussen, showcases some fine picking by Vignola. Jazz vibraphonist Milt Jackson's "Bag's Groove" begins with an exotic duet by Kerwin and Marsh, blending blues, jazz, samba, and Afro-Cuban in a stimulating workout. The quintet also delivers a shimmering rendition of Duke Ellington's timeless ballad "In a Sentimental Mood." Among the newer pieces is his hip "April's Wedding Bossa," written for his son Monroe's wife. Both nights from David Grisman's 2007 booking at Jazz Alley are well worth acquiring.

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