Legend has it that a pizza delivery boy lifted Jerry Garcia's cassette tape of two evenings' worth of jam sessions between guitar virtuosos Garcia and Tony Rice, and it's been making the rounds of underground trading circles ever since! And its first legit release lives up to the Dead collector hype: Jerry sings for the only known time the tunes Long Black Veil; House of the Rising Sun, and Man of Constant Sorrow , while the three jam out on So What and Summertime .
Chances are, the most devoted fans of these three musicians have heard these tunes before, thanks to the crafty pizza-delivery boy who filched the tapes from Garcia's kitchen soon after they were recorded in 1993. That said, the warm, intimate performances here are very much worth an official CD release. The sessions came about when Tony Rice was in Northern California to record the delightful duet-collection Tone Poems
with David Grisman. Garcia stopped by to hang out and jam with his old buddy Grisman and with Rice, one of his guitar idols. The disc retains all of the joy and spontaneity you'd expect from such an informal setting--Grisman even elected to leave in the between-song banter, which mostly consists of genuine overflowing mutual praise. The music itself, primarily traditional folk songs, is quite engaging thanks to Garcia's affecting, soulful, pained vocals and to the picking of all three. The contrast in flat-picking-guitar styles makes for an interesting combination: while Rice is technically superb, marvelously quick, and of remarkably clarion tone, Garcia is much more emotional and visceral, feeling his way along. There are a handful of exploratory, off-the-cuff jams that add to the impulsive nature of the whole project. Had the threesome actually intended this to be released, it probably wouldn't have the appeal it does, for this is the product of friends and music lovers, not recording artists. --Marc Greilsamer