David Grisman isn’t just a mandolin player, composer, producer, musical innovator and historian. He’s also a listener — a voracious listener. It might surprise you to know that he’s often in the audience at concerts of many of his musical peers (a term I use lightly as none really have had the journey of the Dawg.)
Recently David and his wife Tracy heard an inspired solo performance by an old friend, guitarist and singer extraordinaire Jim Hurst. This lead to yet another incredible and remarkably fresh release — David Grisman’s Folk Jazz Trio on Dawg’s new music website, AcousticOasis.com.
David and Jim are joined by David’s son Samson Grisman on upright bass for a ride through an eclectic mix of songs, from John Hartford to Stephen Foster. Opening with a bouncy rendition of East Tennessee Blues, you see why a Jewish guy from New Jersey has played with all of the biggest names in bluegrass music. Since his start with Red Allen in the ’60’s (another new Acoustic Oasis release, Red Allen and the Kentuckians Live on the Radio, documents this association), David’s unmatchable tone and stylings give a fresh take on all the material he touches.
Perhaps the most impressive performance from Grisman comes on Stephen Foster’s Beautiful Dreamer, with notes coming from the mandolin ranging from lullaby-sweet, to piercing and emphatic, all in the same line. It takes a career that spans fifty years of listening to play like that.
Jim Hurst’s guitar tone is one of a kind — fluid like water on Chet Atkins’ masterpiece, The Bells of St. Mary’s and the Les Paul (and Mary Ford) classic, Vaya Con Dios. Everyone takes a turn singing on the disc, but Jim’s rich, smoky vocals take the spotlight here. On Cold Hard Business, a swampy, guitar-heavy song, Jim sings like a real southern blues man.
The crystal-clear high-fi recording by the legendary dB Dave Dennison at Grisman’s Dawg studios, gives the listener a chance to hear Hurst like never before. Sam Grisman does a nice job supporting these two world-class musicians on a ride through a range of songs that seem like a true collection of the artists personal favorites. The younger Grisman contributes some wonderful bass solos in his unique style which nicely peppers this recording, giving variety and dynamics to what could have been a formulaic duet CD. A budding vocalist, Sam takes his turn at lead vocals on John Hartford’s I Wish We Had Our Time Again effectively capturing the mellow groove of the river boat captain himself.
David Grisman’s Folk Jazz Trio is of the caliber and taste we’ve come to expect from David Grisman, Acoustic Disc and now, Acoustic Oasis. It can found at www.AcousticOasis.com website and is available in high-resolution, CD-quality or mp3 downloads, or ordered as a CD.