David Grisman & Denny Zeitlin
Recorded at Dawg Studios, Mill Valley, California. Includes liner notes by David Grisman and Denny Zeitland. All tracks have been digitally mastered using HDCD technology.
Many of the projects chosen for David Grisman's Acoustic Disc label are beautifully simple. On New River mandolist Grisman and jazz pianist Denny Zeitlin have arrived at the studio with no more than their instruments, four self-penned pieces each, and the desire to cut an album of intimate duets. They have also co-authored a ninth tune titled "DG/DZ Blues," a piece that they successfully extend for over ten minutes, giving the listener an inkling of their daring on this album. The loose structure of "Brazilian Street Dance," followed by the progressive jazzgrass of "Dawg Funk," also notifies the listener that this will be a stylistically varied set. It should be mentioned that the piano and mandolin, two instruments seldom paired, work quite nicely here. The overall approach is fairly abstract, creating music that is more thoughtful than emotive. This tendency is perhaps most evident on Zeitlin's compositions like "Moving Parts" and the title track. Grisman also shows a knack for writing expansive tunes with "Waltz for Gigi," a piece that may remind some listeners of modal jazz. Its elastic structure provides an evocative mesh for both players to improvise against. The success of this project derives from the players' ability to understand one another and offer engaging support. This intuitive approach also synthesizes the variety of styles - Latin, swing, and modern - to give the album an integrated unity. Since there isn't a category for good acoustic music, it's difficult to know where this album will be shelved at the local record store. It will, nonetheless, be worth tracking down. New River is a lovely undertaking, fresh and in a category by itself.
All Music Guide
Piano legend Denny Zeitlin's keyboard virtuosity meets the inspired groove of David Grisman's mandolin on this ground-breaking Acoustic Disc collaboration. This sonically spectacular and musically spontaneous project showcases mandolin/piano duets as they have never been heard before.
New River presents nine original compositions by two American masters in their first studio recordings together. Latin rhythms abound on Zeitlin's "Brazilian Street Dance," funk is taken to a new place on Grisman's "Dawg Funk," and the two combine compositional strategies on the sensual "DG/DZ Blues." Zeitlin's highly improvisational "On the March", soothingly pastoral "New River" and Dawg's grassy "14 Miles to Barstow," jazzy "Blue Midnite," and recent "Waltz for Gigi" are given new ear-turning treatments by their interacting authors. Recorded "live" to 2-track analog and mastered with the HDCD process, New River is yet another example of Acoustic Disc's exceptional sound quality and musical excellence.
Although many people think of mandolinist David Grisman as a bluegrass musician, most of his recorded output has actually contained more jazz than any other style. On New River, a collection of duets with pianist Denny Zeitlin, Grisman forgoes even a hint of the high lonesome sound in favor of a series of original compositions that blend elements of Latin music, cool West Coast jazz, and blues into an intriguing, impressionistic mix. In many of his other groupings Grisman tends to play at a very brisk tempo, but on tracks such as "New River" Zeitlin's sustained chords and meditative rhythms cause him to slow down and leave more space between his notes than he has in the past. Even on livelier tracks such as "Dawg Funk" and "On the March" the focus from both musicians is on taste and tone, rather than instrumental pyrotechnics. Here, Grisman shows that even after decades of experimentation he is not finished taking the mandolin into unexpected musical territories. And on this particular journey, he has chosen a worthy companion in Zeitlin.