"Grateful Dawg" is a hoot and a holler. It's the soundtrack to the documentary movie of the same name. The movie is the musical love story of two hairy guys making lots of music, and the soundtrack is lots of music. It clocks in at almost 76 minutes, (just about 4 minutes shorter than the movie,) and that alone gives this CD an extra star. (Corporate music take note.) The movie and soundtrack follow Grisman and Garcia's relationship from 1964 to Garcia's death, and it's a privilege to listen to these guys get better and better. I've never been a big fan of the Dead, too much noodling and doodling, but Garcia away from the band is another story all together. Grisman I've always liked, and his perfection mixes well with Garcia's more relaxed approach. Oddly enough, years of cigarettes and substance abuse seemed to have improved Garcia's voice. The early recordings have him straining way outside his range while the later stuff has him in a range all his own. That distinctive Garcia voice. We only get to hear Grisman on "Jenny Jenkins," a tongue-twisting children's song, which is a shame because he can sing. It's the picking, though, that has these guys joined at the hip. This is the sound of twenty nimble fingers, and the concentration and joy of making music comes through loud and clear. They're backed by Joe Craven (percussion and violin,) and Jim Kerwin (bass,) on the later stuff, but even though Grisman and Garcia are out front the playing is ensemble. We also get a taste of Bill Monroe, Peter Rowan, Vassar Clements, and Ewan MacColl. I've heard it said that jazz, in its complexity, is America's answer to European classical music, but when you hear the chamber music of "Grateful Dawg," it's clear that jazz isn't the only answer, and I think this stuff is much more fun.