In a long history of great live shows this one in Uniondale, New York in March of 1990 was near the top. Not only do you get the musical brilliance and tightness of this rock band but when they called up jazz saxophonist Branford Marsalis onstage and he remained for the whole second set it became a night to remember. Thankfully the show was being recorded and so we can still enjoy it twenty-four years later. If you listen to the show and close your eyes you can almost see the interaction that goes on between Marsalis and guitarist Jerry Garcia. It’s a display of two men that really know how to get the most out of their instruments and enjoy weaving them together to create something new and magical. I really got a new appreciation of Marsalis as he, though he was not a member of the band and probably did not know all the Grateful Dead songs, shows his skill at listening and the ability to improvise. He works well with the entire band. As if the second set wasn’t enough, the first set from when the band was at its last great period is sublime as well. Garcia was on fire on the guitar with great solo after great solo. The highlight of the first set comes during the song “Bird Song” when Marsalis makes his first appearance. This was planned and Marsalis did so well that in between sets the band invited him to sit in for the entire second set. Despite the fact that it was recorded so long ago the sound is great – very crisp and clear. All the better for us to appreciate what happened on that evening.
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