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Album Review

David Grisman returns in fine, if standard, form on Dawgnation, the first record of new material produced by his David Grisman Quintet since 1995's Dawganova. The material on Dawgnation doesn't break any new ground particularly, though Grisman's so-called "dawg" music — a mix of bluegrass, hot jazz, Latin grooves, klezmer, and world rhythms — can still be exhilarating, especially if one has never heard it before. The band manages to keep the energy high and the music fresh-sounding, making this as fine a starting point into the quintet as any. Each of the tracks is a tribute to one of Grisman's extended musical family — such as "Slade" (for the late Charles Sawtelle), "Why Did the Mouse Marry the Elephant?" (for bassist Edgar Meyer), and the title track for "Spudboy" (aka Jerry Garcia). Still, the pastoral mix of Matt Eakle's flute, Enrique Coria's flamenco jazz guitar, and Joe Craven's fiddle and percussion with Grisman's mandolin melodies doesn't break any new boundaries. It is calming, pretty, well-executed music that is unlikely to offend anyone, but is ultimately (perhaps) slightly too lite to be considered ballsy and a touch too syncopated and strange to find acceptance among any mainstream audience.

Biography

Born: 23 March 1945 in Hackensack, NJ

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

David Grisman is normally associated with the bluegrass wing of country music, but his music owes almost as much to jazz as it does to traditional American folk influences. Because he couldn't think of what to call his unique, highly intricate, harmonically advanced hybrid of acoustic bluegrass, folk, and jazz without leaning toward one idiom or another, he offhandedly decided to call it "dawg music" — a name which, curiously enough, has stuck. A brilliant mandolinist, with roots deep in the...
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Dawgnation, David Grisman Quintet
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