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Well Matched: The Best Of Merl Saunders & Jerry Garcia

Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia

Initial release : 2006

Fantasy 30019

A compilation of material from the 1970's including one previously unreleased track.


  • Mystery Train (Parker / Phillips)
  • Lonely Avenue (Pomus)
  • Merl's Tune (Saunders / White)
  • Positively 4th Street (Dylan)
  • After Midnight (Cale)
  • Welcome to the Basement (Moore / Saunders)
  • That's Alright (Rogers)
  • Space (Garcia / Kahn / Saunders / Vitt)
  • I Second That Emotion (Cleveland / Robinson)
  • The Harder They Come (Cliff) .

Mystery Train, Merl's Tune, Space, I Second That Emotion and The Harder They Come;

  • Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
  • Merl Saunders - keyboards
  • John Kahn - bass
  • Bill Vitt - drums
Positively 4th Street;
  • Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
  • Merl Saunders - keyboards
  • John Kahn - bass
  • Bill Vitt - drums
  • David Grisman - mandolin
Lonely Avenue;
  • Merl Saunders - electric piano, organ
  • Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
  • John Kahn - bass
  • Bill Kreutzmann - drums
  • Walter Hawkins and sisters (Tramaine, Lynette and Feddie) - background vocals
After Midnight;
  • Merl Saunders - electric piano, organ
  • Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
  • Tom Fogerty - rhythm guitar
  • John Kahn - bass
  • Bill Vitt - drums
Welcome To The Basement;
  • Merl Saunders - keyboards
  • Jerry Garcia - lead guitar
  • Tom Fogerty - rhythm guitar
  • John Kahn - bass
  • Eddie Moore - drums, saw
  • Kenneth Nash - percussion
  • Bob Drew - saxophone
  • Tower Of Power Horns
That's All Right;
  • Merl Saunders - organ, piano
  • Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
  • Vassar Clements - violin
  • David Grisman - mandolin
  • John Kahn - bass
  • E. W. Wainwright - drums

  • Compilation - David Gans
  • Production coordination - Stuart Kremsky
  • Mixing (I Second That Emotion) - Stephen Hart
  • Remastering - Joe Tarantino
  • Booklet essay - Blair Jackson
  • Design - Linda Kalin, Deb Sibony
  • Cover and reverse cover photos - Annie Leibovitz
  • Booklet photos - Tony Lane, Annie Leibovitz, Phil Bray
  • All photos courtesy of the Fantasy archive
  • Posters courtesy of Merl Saunders Jr.

In an interview in 1991 with Scott Muni Garcia described how he started playing with Saunders;

We played with him for a couple of years, and then Howard [Wales] went off and kinda - periodically he gets this thing of where he just can't deal with the music world any more, and he just disappears. So we were there, stuck there, and we were supposed to play Monday night, and we didn't have a player. John [Kahn] said, 'Well, I just did some sessions with this guy Merl Saunders'.

So ol' Merl steps onto the scene, and he was wonderful. He was just great great fun to play with. I learned lots about the stuff that I'd missed in music, lots of legit stuff like bebop, the way that works, and the way standards are put together, and that sort of thing. I learned a lot of musical stuff playing with Merl, and we had a good time playing together.

That went on for a good long time. We played off and on throughout the '70s, mostly. During all this time the band had lots of different players - Bill Kreutzmann played drums with us for a while. Armando Peraza used to play with us for a while, and different players sort of in and out, kind of a floating deal, and it was still basically one of those things I did when the Grateful Dead wasn't working. I think the first time we ever went anywhere was we came here to New York and played for a Hell's Angels wedding on the Staten Island Ferry out there. I think that was the first time we played here. Then we also did a show, I think, for John Scher, at the Capitol Theatre, the old Capitol Theatre. That was the first time that that band ever left the West Coast. It was always one of those things that was kind of a part-time deal for me.

Anyway, it slowly started to evolve. We put out some records with Merl and did some stuff, but it was still mainly kind of low key. After a while, Merl had other stuff to do. John and I kept playing.

Merl Saunders spoke about the Saunders / Garcia band in an interview in the 1990's;
We started doing standard songs because I loved standards. Jerry was very interested in those songs and how to play them. As a matter of fact, one of the classic songs was My Funny Valentine, which we recorded. Jerry loved standard songs. He liked the challenge.
Garcia also spoke about the group in an interview with Guitar Player magazine in 1988;
When I started playing with Merl I went to a more organ-style trio. I played big, fat chords and did a lot of that walking-style chord shifting on the blues numbers and things that Merl is so good at. My style is much more conventional, in a way, with him, and it's very satisfying for me to play and hear myself as a conventional player. It's a kind of playing that I don't do in the Grateful Dead.
Related releases

Positively 4th Street, Space, The Harder They Come, Merl's Tune and Mystery Train were recorded at the Keystone in July 1973. The performance dates for the songs are;

  • Positively 4th Street - July 10, 1973
  • Space - July 11, 1973
  • The Harder They Come - July 10, 1973
  • Merl's Tune - July 10, 1973
  • Mystery Train - July 10, 1973
These tracks have been previously released on the following albums.

Positively 4th Street, Space and The Harder They Come were originally released on:

Merl's Tune was originally released on Mystery Train was originally released on Welcome to the Basement was originally released on: Lonely Avenue and After Midnight were originally released on: That's Alright was originally released on:
  • Keepers, Merl Saunders and Friends, 1997
I Second That Emotion is previously unreleased and was recorded for a live KSAN broadcast at the Record Plant, Sausalito, CA on July 8, 1973.

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