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

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Well-Matched: The Best of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia
Photo of Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia, by Annie Liebovitz
Compilation album by
Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia
ReleasedMay 23, 2006
Recorded1971 – 1974
GenreRock, jazz-rock, rhythm and blues
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Well-Matched: The Best of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia is a retrospective album by Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia. It contains selections from six of their albums, along with one previously unreleased track, all recorded between 1971 and 1974. It was released on CD by Fantasy Records on May 23, 2006.[1][2]

The albums excerpted on Well-Matched are Heavy Turbulence (released in 1972), Fire Up (1973), Live at Keystone (1973), Keystone Encores Volume I (1988), Keystone Encores Volume II (1988), and Keepers (1997).[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic4/5 stars [1]
Glide3.5/5 stars [4]
Sea of Tranquility4/5 stars [5]

On Allmusic, Steve Leggett said, "[Saunders and Garcia led a band] 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.[1]

In Glide magazine, Shawn Donohue wrote, "... the music presented here is superb and will prove especially profound for those recreational fans that aren’t as familiar with the duo's past efforts. Garcia always seems to be musically smiling while he is onstage with Saunders, and his playing is precise while Saunders' keys babble along, coaxing Garcia to hit the right notes for maximum effect. It's quite a different ride from his Grateful Dead days. If you're new to this musical tag-team, grab this album as a jumping off point, you will not be disappointed."[4]

On Sea of Tranquility, Mike Blackburn said, "During that four to five year period, and under Saunder's loose Art Tatum based jazz tutelage, Garcia reined in his free flowing solo style somewhat, injecting some discipline and fire into his playing. The result was a Well-Matched collaboration indeed, resulting in this fiery yet harmonic display of musical expression. Of the bounty of work Jerry created outside the confines of the Dead (who were also arguably hitting their commercial peak during those early 70s), these jams and collaborations represent perhaps the very best."[5]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Original albumLength
1."Mystery Train"Sam Phillips, Junior ParkerKeystone Encores11:32
2."Lonely Avenue"Doc PomusFire Up8:53
3."Merl's Tune"Merl Saunders, John WhiteKeystone Encores13:32
4."Positively 4th Street"Bob DylanLive at Keystone7:43
5."After Midnight"JJ CaleFire Up5:03
6."Welcome to the Basement"Saunders, Eddie MooreHeavy Turbulence6:16
7."That's All Right"Arthur CrudupKeepers5:07
8."Space"Saunders, Jerry Garcia, John Kahn, Bill VittLive at Keystone3:51
9."I Second That Emotion"Smokey Robinson, Al Clevelandpreviously unreleased9:45
10."The Harder They Come"Jimmy CliffLive at Keystone6:22




  • Compilation: David Gans
  • Production coordinator: Stuart Kremsky
  • Remastering: Joe Tarantino
  • Design: Linda Kalin, Deb Sibony
  • Photography: Annie Leibovitz, Tony Lane, Phil Bray
  • Liner notes: Blair Jackson


  1. ^ a b c Leggett, Steve. Well-Matched: The Best of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia at Allmusic. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  2. ^ Well-Matched: The Best of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia, All About Jazz, April 25, 2006. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  3. ^ Well-Matched: The Best Of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia at the Grateful Dead Family Discography. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  4. ^ a b Donohue, Shawn (June 30, 2006). Well-Matched: The Best of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia Glide magazine. Retrieved April 4, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Blackburn, Mike (June 17, 2006). Well-Matched: The Best of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia, Sea of Tranquility. Retrieved April 4, 2013.