For close to 50 years, mandolinist and composer David Grisman has been one of America's leading proponents of acoustic music in America. In that time, he's recorded dozens of albums of his own music, and produced many records for other performers. In 1990, Grisman launched his own record company, Acoustic Disc. Since then, he's produced over 50 critically-acclaimed recordings, including five that have been nominated for Grammy Awards. As VOA's Katherine Cole reports, with the release of a new album, David Grisman is showing no signs of slowing down.
Over 30 years ago, David Grisman came up with a sound that blends bluegrass, jazzy and Latin rhythms, and other styles into what he calls "dawg music." That's what you're hearing in this song, "Limestone", and the nine other tracks on Dawg's Groove, the latest album from The David Grisman Quintet.
David Grisman began playing the mandolin as a teenager, soon after he discovered bluegrass music. In the beginning, he played in the style of Bill Monroe, the man credited with inventing bluegrass. Soon Grisman was composing original songs and exploring other musical styles. This led to the invention of "dawg music."
The original David Grisman Quintet featured a "strings only" lineup that included guitarist Tony Rice and Darrol Anger on fiddle, along with other relatively-unknown performers who today are well-known to fans of bluegrass and acoustic music.
Dawg's Groove, released 30 years after the first David Grisman Quintet recording, has a somewhat different sound. In his liner notes, David Grisman says this is the most eclectic of his Quintet albums to-date. This album finds the bandleader turning more toward jazz and Latin America for influences, and to accommodate the difference between bluegrass and those sounds, includes drums and flute in the lineup.
David Grisman wrote the majority of the songs on Dawg's Groove, with the band members contributing most of the rest. One, written by bassist Jim Kerwin, is a musical portrait of his Irish grandmother, who survived the 1906 earthquake that destroyed much of San Francisco. The multi-movement tribute is called "Ella McDonnell."
While many musicians struggle to come up with enough songs for one record a year, that is not the case with David Grisman. On the same day he released Dawg's Groove, fans were treated to the first ever recording by a new band he has formed, The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience.
We'll tell you more about that recording in part two of this report.