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David Grisman/Denny Zeitlin: New River

Take two exceptional San Francisco Bay-area musicians with exceptional backgrounds-Denny Zeitlin is a both a practicing psychiatrist and a world-class pianist; mandolinist David Grisman came out of bluegrass to play with a number of jazz luminaries-and this series of vibrant duets is what you get. All of the material is original, with each participant bringing four numbers to the table (one tune is a collaboration).

Zeitlin’s “Brazilian Street Dance” begins spaciously, almost cautiously, before upshifting to a kinetic samba groove, with Grisman’s mandolin dancing over the piano underpinning. During the keyboard solo, which makes several transitions and freely ranges, Grisman actively comps, reenters for counter-line episodes and is rarely at a loss for what to do. In contrast, Grisman’s “Fourteen Miles to Barstow” is a progressive, folklike conversation that includes a variety of string effects, articulate exchanges and expansive, probing work by Zeitlin. And the project’s joint effort, “DG/DZ Blues,” touches on minor blues elements that serve as a jumping off point for exploratory work by both players, Zeitlin in particular.

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