Tonight was a night for guest stars, with legendary free jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman joining the Dead for half of the second set and jazz vocalist Flora Purim and legendary fusion drummer Airto Moreira sitting in with the band on Drums and Space.
Even without the guests, this show is far superior to last night’s performance at the same venue, with an in-sync and clearly “on” Grateful Dead. The first set crackles with energy, so even though there are a bunch of missed lyrics, we’re still able to enjoy up-tempo songs like Touch of Grey and Loose Lucy. Don’t Ease Me In closes out the set with a bang.
The second set is where the real deal goes down, opening with a really funky version of China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider. Jerry solos all over the place on these tunes, and, unlike yesterday, his playing is focused and true. This is good 1993 stuff. Estimated Prophet follows and achieves peak 1977 haziness sixteen years later. Vince pulls out all the stops here and his contribution is better than decent.
Drums / Space with Purim and Moreira is fine. As with some of their other appearances with the band, it’s hard to hear Moreira’s contributions due to the sound quality of the recording, but Purim adds some truly haunting vocals to Space. Space is also where Coleman pops up, and it’s the best sound we’re going to get out of him because he frustratingly falls back into the muddy mix once the rest of the band arrives for the transition into The Other One, which is nicely done. You’ll pick up hints of Coleman during Wharf Rat and Turn on Your Lovelight, all of it very cool. In all fairness, The Other One (the 1993 version), Wharf Rat and Lovelight (the 1993 version) don’t seem like they’re exactly Ornette’s bread and butter tunes since these songs don’t really go out into the “free-er” realms very often in these later years. But, on the other hand, these songs must have done something for Coleman, because he also played The Other One and Lovelight at the 2/23/93 show at Oakland Coliseum. (Ornette played on Space in Oakland too – that’s a no-brainer Ornette Coleman scenario).
This is a good 1993 show, and I’m somewhat surprised that there aren’t more reviews of the performance on the Archive, especially given the guests. No worries, it can be your secret favorite 1993 show. Here it is: https://archive.org/details/gd1993-12-09.sbd.miller.91958.sbeok.flac16