Personnel: Merl Saunders (piano, Clavinet, organ, synthesizer); Merl Saunders; David Grisman (mandolin); Vassar Clements (violin); Bob Drew (alto saxophone); John Kahn (bass guitar); Eddie Moore (drums, musical saw); Eccleston W. Wainwright, Jr. (drums); Kenneth Nash (percussion); Jerry Garcia (vocals, guitar); Bill Vitt, Bill Kreutzmann (drums).
Audio Mixer: Stephen Hart .
Audio Remasterer: Joe Tarantino.
Recording information: Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA (??/??/1971-01/12/1974); Keystone, Berkeley, CA (??/??/1971-01/12/1974); Record Plant, Sausalito, CA (??/??/1971-01/12/1974).
Photographers: Tony Lane; Phil Bray; Annie Leibovitz.
Unknown Contributor Role: Tower of Power Horn Section.
The music made by Jerry Garcia and keyboardist Merle Saunders, a mellow fusion of R&B, jazz, and blues, may be familiar to Grateful Dead fans, but it is less well-known by the public at large. Garcia, Saunders, and their band played together for about five years in the early 1970s, and this fine compilation brings together recordings made during that time.
Half the tracks are from the '73 double-album LIVE AT KEYSTONE, and the other half are culled from the band's appearances on Saunders's solo albums. There are a few originals, but the group primarily specialized in interpretive covers, with Bob Dylan's "Positively 4th Street" and Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come" appearing here, among others. The recordings are an excellent showcase for Garcia's guitar playing, giving full range to his versatility and skill as a musician, and Saunders's soul-jazz licks can be quite tasty too.