David Grisman is normally associated with the bluegrass wing of country music, but his music owes almost as much to jazz as it does to traditional American folk influences. Because he couldn't think of what to call his unique, highly intricate, harmonically advanced hybrid of acoustic bluegrass, folk, and jazz without leaning toward one idiom or another, he offhandedly decided to call it "dawg music" — a name which, curiously enough, has stuck. A brilliant mandolinist, with roots deep in the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, Grisman's jazz sensibilities were strong enough to attract the admiration of the HCQ's Stephane Grappelli, who toured and recorded with Grisman on occasion.
Greene didn't stick around for too long, and in 1976 Grisman assembled a new group dubbed the David Grisman Quintet, which featured guitarist Tony Rice, fiddler Darol Anger, bassist Joe Carroll, and mandolinist/bassist Todd Phillips. The Quintet's self-titled debut was released in 1977 on Kaleidoscope and proved a seminal influence on the so-called "newgrass" or "new acoustic" movements, thanks to its progressive, jazz-fueled harmonies and improvisations. The follow-up, 1979's Hot Dawg, was Grisman's breakthrough album; it was released on A&M's jazz imprint, Horizon, and featured guest work by jazz violin legend Stephane Grappelli. By this time, there was already personnel turnover in the Quintet; mandolinist Mike Marshall joined up, and by the time Grisman moved to Warner and recorded Mondo Mando in 1981, bassist Rob Wasserman and violinist Mark O'Connor joined Rice, Anger, and Marshall. In all, Grisman recorded four albums for Warner over 1980-1983; 1982's Dawg Jazz/Dawg Grass was another notable outing with Grappelli that, true to its title, split its repertoire between swing and bluegrass.
By 1984, the original "dawg music" lineup had largely broken up, with most of the members moving on to productive solo and/or collaborative projects (Anger notably joined the Turtle Island String Quartet). Grisman played on a number of sessions in the meantime, including with jazz-minded banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck, who claimed Grisman as a major influence. In 1985, Grisman organized a new group with seasoned jazz musicians: bassist Jim Kerwin, guitarist Dimitri Vandellos, and drummer George Marsh, who backed him on a 1987 duet album with jazz violinist Svend Asmussen, Svingin' with Svend. The more traditional bluegrass outing Home Is Where the Heart Is followed in 1988, before Grisman formed his own Acoustic Disc label in 1990 and got much more prolific.