No Dead-related band, including the Grateful Dead, could turn on a dime like The Phil Lesh Quintet. They were a nimble jazz unit that happened to play Grateful Dead songs some of the time.
This mix curates the jazziest of their performances from the earliest months of their existence, using only the available soundboard tapes. There are a few brushes with Grateful Dead material, but most of the passages come from stretches of pure, twisting, improvisation.
I’ve often fantasized about an alternate history of post-1975 Grateful Dead that sounded something like this.
You can’t easily, artificially splice PLQ passages together the way you can with the Grateful Dead live tapes. PLQ kept you spellbound until a logical and seamless shift into the next song, without wasting a single beat. I’ve therefore faded these passages, which is probably for the best, because it’s all intensely involving music, and an unbroken chain might be overwhelming.
Tracks span October 2000 through April 2001. They are all titled “Jam,” except for a few, including “Milestones,” “Help on the Way > Slipknot!,” and “Blues for Allah.” Performance dates are included in the song title tags.
Thanks to Ben Powers for helping me bring the logo concept to the right destination. Cover art: Basquiat