David Grisman and Denny Zeitlin
First Appeared at The Music Box, July 2001, Volume 8, #7
Written by John Metzger
Perhaps the concept of an album comprised of piano and mandolin duets doesn't sound like your cup of tea. But don't let that stop you from giving a listen to the latest Acoustic Disc offering — David Grisman and Denny Zeitlin's New River. It's far too good to be dismissed quite so quickly.
There's little doubt that both pianist Zeitlin and mandolinist Grisman are technically proficient at their respective instruments. Yet unlike most artists with such adept precision, these two accomplish an all too rare feat and infuse a whole lot of emotion into each note that they play. As a result, New River is not only intriguingly adventurous in spirit, but also breathtakingly beautiful as the musicians traverse a wide-sweeping sonic terrain.
Brazilian Street Dance begins with the bossa nova bop of Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Dawg Funk explores some earthy, newgrass grooves. In both cases — as with the other seven tracks on New River — Zeitlin and Grisman quickly move beyond their starting point, completely forgoing jazz cliché for interactive, musical conversation. The chemistry between these two wizards is truly remarkable, and it is certainly a joy to behold. The songs' melodies seamlessly shift from piano to mandolin and back again with an aqueous flow — each musician augmenting and supporting the other in a dance of liquid radiance.
Surely, it's not a simple task to find two artists who so easily seem to grasp what the other is doing, and it's even harder for two artists to get together and relinquish enough of their egos to allow the real magic happen. But that's exactly what Grisman and Zeitlin do time and again throughout New River, making this a true collaboration with groundbreaking results.
New River is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2001 The Music Box