David Grier

Panorama

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Ever since the release of FreeWheeling, David Grier's debut Rounder Records album, he has been recognized as one of the true giants of bluegrass guitar. On Panorama, though, his playing reaches new levels of technical and stylistic fluidity that few guitarists in any genre even attempt. Although he often fuses country, bebop, classical, traditional jazz, funk and just about every other style imaginable in the course of a single song or solo, Grier never incorporates a lick for the sake of pure experimentation or to show off his chops. Both his rhythm and lead playing are unerringly musical and always supportive of the song. That's not to say, however, that those listeners who are just in it for the shredding will be disappointed. The delicacy and speed of his playing on some tunes is less like traditional guitar picking and more like a hummingbird in flight. Of course, Grier's sidemen (a misnomer, really, because each one is a virtuoso in his own right) on Panorama all share the limelight with dazzling solos of their own. The work of mandolinist Sam Bush is particularly awe-inspiring, and he blazes through several tunes less like Bill Monroe than a young Al DiMeola. Grier, though, is unquestionably the leader on this effort, his flawless feel and sophisticated compositions leading the way for his talented compatriots. Although the album may be a little too ambitious for some fans of straight-ahead bluegrass, Panorama will certainly appeal to lovers of "Dawg Music," progressive bluegrass or imaginative, expertly played instrumental music of any sort.

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