For those of us who have long lauded the stunning virtuosities of Ry Cooder, David Grier is a very welcome addition to an exceedingly thin catalogue of players with a grace and erudition that's almost impossible to put into words, a slim roster numbering David Lindley, Lloyd Maines, and a not a whole lot of others within its confines. The lead cut here, Meditate, is a cinematically perfect evocation of slow lazy lines swooping and meandering in balmy Southwest deserts incorporating elements of the subtleties in phrasing Duane Allman was capable of when jamming with other giants (Clapton et al).
Grier landed International Bluegrass Music Association's Guitar Player of the Year three times, over and above being named Artist of the Decade in 2000, so, though not exactly a household name, neither has he been unrecognized. Martin Mull, a Grier fan, penned the liner notes and observes that this release goes well beyond the guitarist's fame as "a premier bluegrass picker…to push the envelope", and it's precisely there—while incorporating jazz, classicalism, and moody Spanish sonorities, among others—that he achieves his plateau in deceptively mannered tones ably flanked by a basic duo (John Gardner, Jeff Taylor) and seven maestros, including Victor Wooten.
This is not a pyrotechnic tour de force, it's not meant to be, rather more elegant than that, chiefly languid and pastoral with rich Americana pigments and mindsets, colors and gestures rarely explored with such a refined hand or so knowing a facility, an art nouveau statement from the prairielands. If you still miss the more elevated statements from the prime period of the Windham Hill label—and who doesn't?—Evocative will succor that absence, a pining we might not want to get altogether rid of, not so long as it keeps turning up work like this. Teela especially calls back to that well regarded day, recalling some of the ensembles centered in Alex DeGrassi and William Ackerman, though Grier is most decidedly his own man.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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