Well-Matched: The Best of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
During his three decades of musical exploration, Jerry Garcia called upon a seemingly endless array of collaborators; but few brought out his fire and sensitivity as well as Merl Saunders. This compilation, which collects ten tunes -- including a previously unreleased cover of Smokey Robinson's classic "I Second That Emotion" that twists and turns its way through nearly ten minutes of improvisation -- turns the spotlight on the seamless merging of the two musicians' disparate yet ultimately complementary styles. Keyboardist Saunders, a denizen of the jazz world, imparts a soulful coziness with his organ and clavinet lines, particularly on an up-tempo take on "The ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
During his three decades of musical exploration, Jerry Garcia called upon a seemingly endless array of collaborators; but few brought out his fire and sensitivity as well as Merl Saunders. This compilation, which collects ten tunes -- including a previously unreleased cover of Smokey Robinson's classic "I Second That Emotion" that twists and turns its way through nearly ten minutes of improvisation -- turns the spotlight on the seamless merging of the two musicians' disparate yet ultimately complementary styles. Keyboardist Saunders, a denizen of the jazz world, imparts a soulful coziness with his organ and clavinet lines, particularly on an up-tempo take on "The Harder They Come," which closes out the disc on a sunny note. Most of Well Matched has a similarly friendly feel, from the playful spin the duo put on Elvis Presley's "Mystery Train" -- the King would probably have approved, despite his bafflement as to how they managed to extend it for a full 12 minutes -- to the smoky sensuality they use to coat "After Midnight." The originals, while not as immediately infectious as the more familiar tunes, insinuate themselves into the pleasure center without too much trouble, particularly the sultry fusion excursion "Welcome to the Basement," which makes good use of the Tower of Power horn section. Garcia fans, who might not have easy access to the Saunders sides that most of these tunes were culled from, would do well to match themselves with Well Matched.
All Music Guide - Steve Leggett
For five years in the early '70s Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders headed up a loose-knit club band in the San Francisco area (the group never had an official name) specializing in a graceful mix of jazz, R&B, blues, gospel, and light funk with hints of bop, fusion, and even reggae. Aside from the two-volume Live at Keystone (1973), most of the group's recorded output appeared on various Saunders releases on Fantasy Records, and this remarkably cohesive compilation picks key tracks from all of these, with roughly half of the set coming from the Keystone LPs. Garcia is in full flight here as a guitarist, with Saunders' soul-jazz organ giving things a wonderfully fluid feel, and the end result is a kind of laid-back West Coast jazz-rock that is very much the sum of its parts. Among the highlights in what is a very strong sequence are the nearly 12-minute version of "Mystery Train" that opens things here, the floating elegance of the instrumental "Merl's Tune," the fusion-feel "Welcome to the Basement" with a guest shot from the Tower of Power Horns, and an interesting take on Jimmy Cliff's "The Harder They Come," which was still a relatively unknown tune when this version was recorded in 1973. Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead fans will no doubt appreciate all of this, but Well-Matched also functions as a kind of introduction to Saunders as well, whose good-natured and pop-inflected approach to soul-jazz deserves to be better known.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/23/2006
  • Label: Fantasy
  • UPC: 888072300194
  • Catalog Number: 30019
  • Sales rank: 37,070

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Jerry Garcia Primary Artist, Guitar, Vocals
Merl Saunders Primary Artist, Organ, Synthesizer, Piano, Clavinet
Kenneth Nash Percussion
Tom Fogerty Rhythm Guitar
Vassar Clements Violin
David Grisman Mandolin
John Kahn Bass, Bass Guitar
Bill Kreutzmann Drums
Eddie Moore Drums, Saw
Bill Vitt Drums
Eccleston W. Wainwright Jr. Drums
Bob Drew Alto Saxophone
Technical Credits
Jimmy Cliff Composer
J.J. Cale Composer
Bob Dylan Composer
Jerry Garcia Producer
Merl Saunders Producer
Tom Fogerty Producer
John Kahn Producer
Junior Parker Composer
Doc Pomus Composer
Jimmy Rogers Composer
Bill Vitt Producer
Sam Phillips Composer
Joe Tarantino Remastering
Tower of Power Horn Section Contributor
Annie Leibovitz Cover Photo
Blair Jackson Essay
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great stuff

    Finally some of the best work from this great duo all on one CD, no need to make a mix CD anymore, its all here. One for the collection.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews