Picks and Pans Review: Live
They met in 1978, shortly before they both played on the sound track of the film King of the Gypsies. Since then violinist Grappelli, 73, born in Paris, and Grisman, 36, born in Hackensack, N.J., have forged an unlikely jazz string duo on the level of such historic pairings as Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang, and Grappelli himself and the peerless guitarist Django Reinhardt. This album, recorded at concerts in San Francisco and Boston in 1979, is not always enthralling. At their worst, Grappelli and Grisman bring to mind a jam session between the All-Star Gypsy Dixieland Syncopators and the Venice Gondoliers' Hot Jazz Band. This sort of cacophony is worst on their arrangement of Tiger Rag. But the LP also includes marvelously lyrical versions of Ellington's Satin Doll and Erroll Garner's Misty, which highlight Grappelli's ability to embellish those composers' phrases that need embellishing and let the others alone. Bassist Rob Wasserman adds a consistently enterprising foundation to what is a sometimes shrill, though always interesting, matchup.