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Album Review

David Grisman's first love was bluegrass, and though most of his recordings have fallen into his nebulous jazz-leaning "Dawg music" non-category, Grisman has on occasion returned to bluegrass, always with exceptional results. His long-running David Grisman Quintet were still going strong when the mandolinist put together a working band called the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, featuring Keith Little on banjo, guitar, and vocals; Chad Manning on fiddle; Jim Nunally on guitar and vocals; and Grisman's son, Samson Grisman, on standup bass. This is no progressive "newgrass" album. DGBX is the real deal, bluegrass as Bill Monroe intended it: standard instrumentation and song structures, high harmonies, breakneck breakdowns, etc. The material is largely borrowed, from such unimpeachable sources as members of the Carter Family and the Stanley Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, and the great Charlie Poole, as well as that old favorite, "Traditional." A Grisman-penned instrumental , cleverly titled "Dawggy Mt. Breakdown," allows for some hot showcasing, but then so does the entire album: these guys are all pros, and when one of them slides into a solo, it's never less than impressive. Another Grisman original, "Old and in the Way," was originally performed by the short-lived '70s band of the same name, of which Grisman was a member and which also included the late Jerry Garcia on banjo, Vassar Clements on fiddle, and John Kahn on bass, as well as the still-kickin' Peter Rowan on guitar. Nothing much about the song has changed, except the folks playing it. That's the idea here: to stick with the basics. There's nothing tricky about DGBX — this is unadulterated bluegrass, played and sung to perfection.

DGBX, The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience
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