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David Grisman Quintet: Dawgnation

David “Dawg” Grisman’s instrument of choice-the mandolin-may be closely associated with the sounds of the hollers of Kentucky, but the music he makes is a globe-trotting amalgamation of jazz, classical and ethnic elements. It’s earned him a deserved reputation as one of the most eclectic musicians around, one who has a loyal following that reaches almost cult proportions at venues around the world.

On Dawgnation Grisman he doesn’t disappoint by straying from his mission. Supported by a cast of exceptional musicians, he seamlessly weaves tapestry after tapestry of vibrant sounds that are as infectious as they are articulate.

On its own, Grisman’s instrumental work is always dexterous and incisive; but here it’s placed in musical situations akin to how a fine gemstone is enhanced by a beautifully honed setting. The Caribbean overtones of “Slade” smoothly morph from a reggaesque vibe to a rollicking Latin jam that provides a kinetic vehicle for the considerable skills of flutist Matt Eakle, guitarist Enrique Coria and multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven who here wields the violin. And whimsy is not without its place, witnessed by “Why Did the Mouse Marry the Elephant?,” a folky but creative duet featuring Grisman on piccolo mandolin with Jim Kerwin on upright, working together to generate a variety of textures with conversational exchanges and tight tandem work. Hand percussion on the title track helps blend Middle Eastern and Celtic elements into an intriguing, seemingly irreconcilable mixture. And the closer, “Dawg After Dark,” is an easy-swinging jazzy number with plenty of bluesy mandolin work and nice guitar and violin contributions.

Looking for a new place of residence for your own far ranging musical tastes? Dawgnation’s borders are wide open to musical citizens of all persuasions.

Originally Published