Missing Man Formation is high-caliber musicianship fueling '70s-style rock ballads and jazz-like instrumentals. "It's Alive" is a fiery, free-jazz piece led by Bobby Strickland on bass clarinet. For the following track, "True Blue," Strickland picks up the saxophone for a moving and eloquent celebration of friendship. Keyboards later added to the original lineup recordings and additional vocals really add to the second part of this song, nicely framing Strickland's solo. Vince Welnick entered the Grateful Dead fold as keyboardist in 1990. The extended musical circles he moves in (minus any elder Dead notables) turned up several talented combinations during the group's short, two-year life. Consider, for instance, the 12-string guitar of Robin Sylvester on the final track, recorded at the 1996 jam session that became the Missing Man Formation debut gig. Post-production and care in selection make this CD an excellent overview of the group's material. Excepting the mellow "Fabiana" by Bobby Vega, no track clocks in at under six minutes.
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AllMusic Review by Tom Schulte