was a pickin' fool. In order to sate his hunger for acoustic music making when he was off the road with the Grateful Dead
, the guitarist would head over to his friend David Grisman
's house, where Garcia and the master mandolinist would jam the night away, often recording the results. THE PIZZA TAPES -- thus named because cassettes of the sessions supposedly were stolen and circulated by a pizza delivery man -- captures music from two nights that found Garcia and Grisman joined by guitar virtuoso Tony Rice
. The impromptu results are a wonderful example of how sympathetic and open-eared players can turn spontaneous sounds into unexpected art. Never meant for release, these recordings capture three like-minded pickers trying their hands at favorite tunes, be they from the worlds of folk ("Shady Grove"), American pop song ("Summertime"), jazz ("So What"), country ("Long Black Veil"), rock ("Knocking on Heaven's Door"), or free-form improvisation (the various "appetizers" that dot the album). The mood is loose and playful, the playing serious and satisfying. Where Rice's solos are fleet and perfectly articulated, Garcia's playing is earthy and inventive; Grisman's sparkling mandolin lines are characteristically clean and ever supportive. Garcia's vocals may be a tad ragged, but his heartfelt readings transcend technical limitations. There's also plenty of revealing conversation, recorded mistakes, and delightful kidding around between three guys absolutely delighted to be in each other's company -- the "appetizer" that catches them playing commercial jingles is a particular gem. The last thing on the minds of Garcia, Grisman, and Rice was making music for the ages, but the fact that they did makes THE PIZZA TAPES even more rewarding.