David Grisman portrait This is the second page of an annotated discography of bluegrass innovator David Grisman, a mandolin picker's mandolin picker who has helped change the face of modern acoustic music. This page covers his work from 1980 to now. For a look at his earlier albums, check out Page One of this discography.

Discography: 1960s-1970s | 1980s-Now | Best-Ofs

David Grisman Quintet "Quintet '80" (Warner, 1980) (LP)

David Grisman "Early Dawg" (Sugar Hill, 1981)

David Grisman & Stephane Grappelli "Live" (Warner, 1981)

David Grisman "Mondo Mando" (Warner, 1982)

David Grisman & Andy Statman "Mandolin Abstractions" (Rounder, 1983)
A set of fairly difficult jazz excursions with fellow bluegrass mandolinist Andy Statman...

David Grisman "Acoustic Christmas" (Rounder, 1983)
Hey, look... it's David Grisman as Santa Claus... I'm not personally a big fan of Christmas records, but this still has some mightly fine picking on it... He starts of all kind of Elizabethan and lute-y, then gets all noodly and Grismanesque... It's okay, but I think I'd like it better if he stuck closer to the melodies and went less far out on the flights of fancy. (By the way, if you like holiday records, you might also want to check out my Hillbilly Holiday section, which reviews plenty of other records with a holiday cheer...)

David Grisman "Dawg Grass/Dawg Jazz" (Warner, 1983)

David Grisman "Acousticity" (Zebra Acoustic, 1985)

David Grisman Quintet "Svingin' With Svend" (Zebra Acoustic, 1987)
A nice set with Danish swing-jazz violinist Svend Asmussen.

David Grisman "Home Is Where The Heart Is" (Rounder, 1988)

David Grisman "Dawg '90" (Acoustic Disc, 1990)
The first release on Grisman's own, independent record label.

David Grisman & Jerry Garcia "Garcia/Grisman" (Acoustic Disc, 1991)

David Grisman/Various Artists "Blue Grass Reunion" (Acoustic Disc, 1992)
Red Allen, Jim Buchanan, James Kerwin, Herb Pedersen and Grisman's old pal, Jerry Garcia, join in for this loveingly old-school truegrass jam...

David Grisman Quintet "Dawgwood" (Acoustic Disc, 1993)

David Grisman & Jerry Garcia "Not For Kids Only" (Acoustic Disc, 1993)
The album title is pretty accurate... While there is a wonderful, relaxed feel to this set that I'm sure little kids would love, the songs shift from fun, frivolous ditties like "Jenny Jenkins" and irresistible classics like Elizabeth Cotton's "Freight Train" into darker, more morbid Appalachian oldies with weird lyrics about murder and cruel prison sentences, etc. that I, personally, would be a little leery about having my kid listen to... Still, it's a nice album and amply demonstrates Grisman and Garcia's strong ties to the older folk traditions and the near-telepathic bond these two old duffers had together. Recommended, even if it gets a little too creepy for kids on a song or two.

David Grisman & Daniel Kobialka "Common Chord" (Cymekob, 1993)

David Grisman & Tony Rice "Tone Poems" (Acoustic Disc, 1994)

David Grisman & Andy Statman "Songs Of Our Fathers" (Acoustic Disc, 1995)

David Grisman Quintet "Dawganova" (Acoustic Disc, 1995)

David Grisman & Martin Taylor "Tone Poems II" (Acoustic Disc, 1995)

David Grisman & Jerry Garcia "Shady Grove" (Acoustic Disc, 1996)

David Grisman & Doc Watson "Doc 'N' Dawg" (Acoustic Disc, 1997)

David Grisman & Jerry Garcia "So What" (Acoustic Disc, 1998)

David Grisman/Various Artists "Bluegrass Mandolin Extravaganza" (Acoustic Disc, 1999)
David Grisman and Ronnie McCoury play host to some of the hottest (and most subtle) mandolin virtuosi in the 'grasslands, for a series of impressive, inventive instrumental tracks... Two whole CDs worth! It's pretty fun stuff, although it's a little hard to sort out who did what on which tracks, since it's sort of billed as one large ensemble -- including Grisman, Del & Ronnie McCoury, Sam Bush, Frank Wakefield, Jesse McReynolds, Bobby Osborne, Buck White and Ricky Skaggs -- all performing under the umbrella name of "Bluegrass Mandolin Extravaganza." Regardless, it's great music, with groovy packaging as well, including a picture spread of the various antique mandos used by the boys in the band...

David Grisman & Martin Taylor "I'm Beginning To See The Light" (Acoustic Disc, 1999)

John Hartford/David Grisman/Mike Seeger "Retrograss" (Acoustic Disc, 1999)
A plunky, clunky, witty deconstruction of rock and old-timey favorites. If anyone has the chops to pull off a goofy album like this one, it would be these acoustic music old-timers. At the tail end of a forty-year bluegrass/old-timey revival that they helped define, when slick, fancy picking has become a formalized norm, they take a few minutes to step back, sit down on the veranda, chew on some wheat straws, and pick and plunk ackwardly, just 'cuz they want to... Included in the set list are goofy hillbilly versions of rock standards such as "Hound Dawg," "Maybelline", and Dylan's "Maggie's Farm", as well as bluegrass tunes like "Rocky Top" and "Uncle Pen." All of these songs are normally played at a breakneck pace, but the Retrograss crew slows it all to a crawl -- listening to their cover of Lonnie Mack's "Memphis," you can easily imagine the protagonist as a Cletus-type hick, puzzling over the chicken scratches left by on the wall by his distracted uncle. Anyone familiar with John Hartford's classic '70s albums will have a good idea what they're in for with this one: it's always a pleasure to hear him in such fine comedic form... And them other two fellows are no sloutches, either.

Jerry Garcia/David Grisman/Tony Rice "The Pizza Tapes" (Acoustic Disc, 2000)
Just three pals hanging out, picking and plunking for fun, getting the munchies and sending out for a veggie special. The myth behind this notorious session is that while they were figuring out the tip, the pizza delivery guy noticed a reel-to-reel tape laying around, thought to himself, "...dude... isn't that Jerry Garcia??" and snagged the tape. It's apparently been passed around as a bootleg for years, and now here it is in its full sonic glory. A nice informal session, similar to other recent archival offerings from Grisman's label... the real value here is to hear how even the gods can goof up and be all loosey-goosey. It helps return bluegrass to its DIY folk scene roots. Plus, there are some great performances on here, particularly when Garcia tackles traditional old-timey ballads in that offhandedly graceful way he had. Nice.

Mike Auldridge/Bob Brozman/David Grisman "Tone Poems III" (Acoustic Disc, 2000)
Three legendary pickers get together to exult in and show off their fabulous collections of vintage "resophonic" and slide guitars, mandolins and banjos. The pictures in the accompanying booklet -- with dozens of gorgeous Jazz Era, art deco instruments -- are enough to make one's jaw drop, but the music on the CD is pretty swell, too. In turns Fahey-esque, bluesy, dreamy, standards-oriented, neo-Hawaiian and somewhat plunky, this album is clearly the work of master musicians happily at play. It's also a really nice record to just chill out and relax to. Very nice.

David Grisman & Danny Zeitlin "New River" (Acoustic Disc, 2001)
A set of somewhat mismatched jazz duets featuring Grisman and pianist Zeitlin on a set of mostly-original compositions. Doesn't work for me, but folks with more of a straight jazz bent might like it.

David Grisman/Beppe Gambetta/Carlo Aonzo "Traversata: Italian Music In America" (Acoustic Disc, 2001)
One of those great little records that only Grisman could or would put out -- lavish, luscious modern renditions of instrumental gems written by Italian immigrants after the turn of the 20th Century. Many songs feature Beppe Gambetta on the harp-guitar, a gigantic, grandly baroque instrument favored by Italian performers of the era; Carlo Aonzo helps out on second mandolin. Grisman, who has been delving into this little-known wellspring of mandolin music, also is in fine form. The album includes excellent liner notes about composers whose names might otherwise be lost to us today. (My big surprise: jazz guitar whiz Eddie Lang was actually an Italian-American, born Salvatore Massaro, at the turn of the century in Philly... Live and learn!)

David Grisman Quintet "Dawgnation" (Acoustic Disc, 2002)
A whismsical set of tunes featuring Grisman and several of his usual suspect pals (notably Jim Kerwin and Joe Craven)... It's too goofy for me, but they sound like they had lots of fun making it... More power to 'em!

Old & In The Gray "Old & In The Gray" (Acoustic Disc, 2002)
A swell get-together of some of Grisman's grizzled, goofy bluegrass buddies. The lineup includes David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements and Herb Pedersen, along with young'un Bryn Bright. who plays a mighty fine bass. The vibe here is playful and relaxed, running through some old favorites and crowd pleasers... highlights include the album opener, "Good Old Boys" and the spine-tingling story-song, "The Flood," which details a river rising and a community rallying to meet the crisis. If you enjoyed the Retrograss album from a few years earlier, then you oughtta love this one, too!

David Grisman & Sam Bush "Hold On, We're Strummin' " (Acoustic Disc, 2003)
A fun, bubbly set, with these two newgrass pioneers relaxing and letting their (rather fluffy, grey) hair down, singing bluegrass and grassed-up pop tunes with a carefree, infectiously upbeat sense of abandon. I dunno exactly why, but I liked this album a lot.

David Grisman/Various Artists "Life Of Sorrow" (Acoustic Disc, 2003)
An absolutely delicious set of true, blue truegrass, with heartfelt duets and collaborations with some fo the finest bluegrass artists in the world. Ever want to hear Grisman plunkin' away with Mac Wiseman, or Del McCoury, or Ralph Stanley? Well, hold onto your hat, 'cause here's your chance! Also on board are luminaries such as Bryan Bowers, Alan O'Bryant, Herb Pedersen and Ralph Rinzler, even a vintage track from the '60s with Grisman's old Earth Opera cohort, John Nagy, and of course a fine performance from the late John Hartford... Each and every track on here is a gem, performed with both conviction and ease, recorded over the years in that wonderful casual-but-classic way that Grisman has perfected to a "T." This disc is really a delight... highly recommended!

Jerry Garcia & David Grisman "Been All Around This World" (Acoustic Disc, 2004)
Another collection of nice, relaxed, acoustic duets, culled from the many hours of informal jam sessions that these two shaggy roots music old-timers held over the years. Jerry croons country oldies like the George Jones classic, "Take Me" and Merle Travis's "Dark As A Dungeon" and "Nine Pound Hammer," reggae tunes like "Sitting Here In Limbo" and several traditional songs, which help anchor the album's old-timey sound. The sedate, laid-back version of Bob Dylan's epic "Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest" is a highlight, though, honestly, there's no weak link to be heard on this album. These performances are understated and sincere, and though Grisman may have mined his archives several times for similar material, he is certainly not scraping the bottom of the barrel here... Not at all!

David Grisman Bluegrass Experience "DGBX" (Acoustic Disc, 2006)
Another rock-solid set of twangy old bluegrass, straight from the "high lonesome" school. This compact fivesome hits every note right (and I'm talking about the emotional notes...), playing classic, old-school bluegrass standards such as "Rock Hearts," "Ruben's Train," "Are You Afraid To Die," et al, with nary a false step. Grisman's been doing some great traditionlist work recently, but this is a really remarkable album. One of the most striking things is how little it sounds like "a David Grisman record": the band is made up of pickers most folks have never heard of -- including a literal representative of the next generation, Samson Grisman, on bass -- and Grisman is very generous in how much he steps aside and lets the band lead this set. If you like traditionally-oriented truegrass, you'll definitely want to give this disc a spin!

David Grisman Quintet "Dawg's Groove" (Acoustic Disc, 2006)
Newgrass pioneer David Grisman celebrates thirty years as a jazz/grass bandleader with a mellow new set that echoes a lot of what the Quintet (in its various incarnations) has offered over the years... This edition of the ensemble features a lot of interplay between Grisman and flautist Matt Eakle, who adds a distinctly Brubeck/Desmond-ish air to the proceedings. It's a pretty breezy set, but if you're a Dawg fan looking for something on the mellow tip, this disc might fill the bill.

David Grisman & Andy Statman "New Shabbos Waltz" (Acoustic Disc, 2006)
I suppose this is really more of a "world music" release, but this set of Jewish klezmer and related melodies is a nice, strong offering. It's a long-overdue followup to the classic Grisman/Statman album, Songs Of Our Fathers, another lively exploration of Jewish music that moves from reckless, ecstatic fast songs to more contemplative, sorrowful slow tunes, particularly those that feature Andy Statman's haunting, elegant clarinet work. The source material runs deep and delves into little-known compositions; there's also a surprising hint of a rock'n'roll backbeat, bolstered by veteran session drummer Hal Blaine, who adds a nice little kick to songs like "Anim Zemiros." If you're in the mood, this is a swell, soulful album.

David Grisman & John Sebastian "Satisfied" (Acoustic Disc, 2007)
David Grisman and former Lovin' Spoonful leader John Sebastian go back a long ways -- they were in the Even Dozen Jugband together, way back in 1963, and are still simpatico now. In addition to his expansive, ebullient personality, Sebastian is also one heck of a guitar picker, a talent that can get overlooked when enjoying all his hippie-pop oldies. So, in addition to his own singer-songwriter folkie stuff, we also get to hear Sebastian provide sympathetic, ragtime-influenced accompaniment on jazzy Grisman compositions such as "EMD." A sweet set of acoustic duets from two luminaries of the '60s folk scene.

David Grisman/Various Artists "The Living Room Sessions" (Acoustic Disc, 2007)
Another relaxed, informal set with Grisman and a few master musician pals -- Frank Vignola, Robin Nolan and Michael Papillo -- kicking back, jamming on standards and soundtrack themes of yesteryear, such as "Autumn Leaves," "Black Orpheus" and "September Song." Gets a little lush and sugary, but that's to be expected, right? More fine picking and soulful performances galore.

David Grisman "Live At Jazz Alley" (Acoustic Disc, 2009)

David Grisman & Frank Vignola "Frank 'N' Dawg: Melody Monsters" (Acoustic Disc, 2010)
An unabashed splash into the idyllic waters of sentimental romanticism, with elegant guitar-mandolin duets on swing and pop-vocal standards such as "Hello Young Lovers," "Stardust" and "As Time Goes By." A sweet set, although all a bit on the sleepy side. Nice picking.

David Grisman Quintet "25th Year Reunion Concert" (Acoustic Disc, 2011)
In pre-9/11 2001, a happier time, David Grisman, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Todd Phillips and Tony Rice reconvened the group that gave the world newgrass, and cheerfully cruised through a live performance of the first David Grisman Quintet album. The audience is understandably warm and ebullient, and the music sounds nice, after all these years. There's plenty of good-natured showboating and fancy licks, and sweet melodies that are well-remembered by fans and band alike. Apparently only available as a download, alas.

David Grisman Quintet "Live At The Great American Music Hall: 03/5-6/79" (Acoustic Disc, 2011)
This archival 2-CD set captures the Quintet in their prime, performing before a lively, appreciative audience on their hometown turf, at San Francisco's venerable Great American Music Hall. In 1979, the GAMH was perhaps the finest venue for roots music in the City, and everyone knew it -- audience and musicians alike. The setlist was pretty similar for each night, and rather than cull through the two evenings for the "best" performances, Grisman opts to include all the recordings, whole, so that we can compare and contrast. A real delight for longtime fans (especially the ones who were there when it happened...)

David Grisman & Martin Taylor "Live At Wigmore Hall: 04/21/96" (Acoustic Disc, 2011)
More archival material, this time a 1996 set with acoustic swing guitarist Martin Taylor... Similar to Grisman's album with Frank Vignola, this is a very sweet celebration of very sentimental, richly melodic music.

David Grisman Quintet "25th Year Reunion Concert" (Acoustic Disc, 2011)
In pre-9/11 2001 -- a happier time -- David Grisman, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, Todd Phillips and Tony Rice reconvened the group that gave the world newgrass and cheerfully cruised through a live performance of the first David Grisman Quintet album. The audience is understandably warm and ebullient, and the music sounds nice, after all these years. There's plenty of good-natured showboating and fancy licks, and sweet melodies that are well-remembered by fans and band alike. Apparently only available as a download... alas.

Discography: 1960s-1970s | 1980s-Now | Best-Ofs

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