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Columns > Dan Alford - Audio Files

Published: 2003/05/28
by Dan Alford

All Star Jams

There are so many live releases hitting the stores recently that it’s hard to keep up. Percy Hill’s new live one is a killer recording of a killer show, with the full PH Big Band. Garaj Mahal has released three volumes in their live series, each one worth checking out, although the 8-23-02 is already legendary. There is another Bonnaroo release, and a new one from the Disco Biscuits taken from the New Year’s run. Trey’s Plasma has just hit, and a new set of Live Phish discs is on the way, all chosen by Mike. There are two new volumes in the Dick’s Picks series, as well as a new View from the Vault (although I find soundtracks more enjoyable than the DVDs). Plus SCI has released a nice box set of NYE as part of the On The Road series. Even Soulive is in on the action with their first ever live release, recorded over the fall 2002 tour. If you feel the need to treat yourself, there are more than enough choices. Also, The Dead have graciously released a soundboard recording of the Valentine’s show for free. It’s available at
On a sadder note, Nina Simone passed away today, April 21. If you aren’t familiar with the jazz vocalist and civil rights activist, you should be. Her voice and power place her firmly in league with Walt Whitman and Allen Ginsberg as someone who defines American language (even though she lived most of her life in Paris). Check out her Live At Ronnie Scott’s for an amazing musical experience. Nina is so powerful, so overwhelming, that at times I have to turn her off because I just can’t handle it (and I listen to Miles’s Live Evil as bedtime music).
Finally, this month is another installment in the on-going All Star Jams series of Audio Files. As always keep in touch with comments or contributions, be they full reviews or some Quick Picks.
Also, keep an eye open for Audio Files B&P offers on the Tape Trade Board. This month an unreleased soundboard of the PLQ on April 15, 2001 was offered.
Quick Picks From the Disc Changer:
PLQ, 4-15-01, Disc 1- Serious psychedelic barrage
Soulive, 3-26-03, Disc 2- Warren as a guest, and Reggie Watts on a unique, crazed Turn It Out
Garaj Mahal, 7-4-02- A very hectic, frenzied set with a monster Gulam Sabri
SKB, 3-23-03, Disc 1- Acoustic Kimock with a 20+ minute Arf, She Cried
Phish, 2-28-03, Disc 2- Is anyone not listening to this Tweezer?
Discman: PLQ, 10-21-00, Disc 1- Jam > Dew. I really miss this band.
Sector 9, 7/6/02- "Shine"
This really fun version of Shine, almost thirty minutes in length, comes from the last of Sector 9’s many sets at the 2002 High Sierra Festival. It also includes the last performance for the weekend from Garaj Mahal’s Fareed Haque and Kai Eckhardt (the whole quartet playing just as many gigs as Sector 9 that weekend). The weekend helped define Fareed’s reputation on the jam scene as THE guitar slut, playing with anyone and everyone. That being said, his initial contributions to Shine are somewhat understated, but add nicely to the atmospheric vibe. He quietly slips in a number of his trademark Asia Minor flourishes and rhythmic structures while Hunter Brown works out the sparse lead with equal grace and delicacy. At just about seven minutes in, the jazz warrior moves to the forefront, establishing a very clean, very specific groove, his band-mate accompanying with serious, thumping low end. Percussion adds perfectly to the vibrational soundscape while Fareed dances with joyous abandon and Hunter adds long notes underneath. It’s a twirling, whirling romp that is appropriately labeled as Garaj House Improv on most recordings. Mahalics will really dig this section as it has a very distinct GM feel, especially when Fareed drops into his funky rhythm role and leads the gathered ensemble on a rising charge.
At seventeen minutes, the music falls away, and Zach’s precise drumming starts again, initiating an extended drum and bass groove. Jeffree’s percussion draws the most attention, although there are many effects and washes from Mr. Phipps, Mr. Brown and Mr. Haque, who has switched to the sitar/guitar. Both Murph and Kai appear to be playing at once, working over the same line, and adding brief flourishes here and there. The movement builds very naturally, the guitars and keyboard effects working in tandem to create a swollen mound that evaporates into a glorious closing of Shine.
Both Sector 9 and Garaj Mahal are well known for their positive mindsets and loving vibrations, so to have the bands collaborate so fully and so wonderfully is really a treat. One note about recordings though: this gig circulates from a variety of sources. Be sure to search out Mick Pacifici’s recording as it is splendid. Skip the on-stage mics on this one, as they are poor quality at best.
Eric Krasno and Friends, 3/5/00
In March of 2000, just after Soulive finished its January Wetlands residency, Kraz began his own NYC residency on Sunday nights at the Izzy Bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Each show featured a number of Allmans family members as well as some Soulive family, but really focused on Oteil , Kraz and Jason Crosby. If you’re only superficially familiar with Soulive, you know of their penchant for high energy, super tight funk grooves. If, however, you’re more closely linked with Soulive you know that the late night gigs, and the surprise and stealth gigs are where the real action happens- not to mention the real growth. Way back in December of 99 Alan and I discussed how important a pair of shows at the now defunct Baby Jupiter were for a interview, and those were seriously late nights. (Incidentally, the Oteil guest appearance on Turn It Out is from that stand.) There is a looseness, a comfortable groove, that is both engaging and illuminating when Soulive lets it all go. (Notice that at such gigs Al never announces, "We are Soulive." There is no need, no pretense of putting on a performance. It’s all about the groove.)
This Kraz and Friends show is one of those gigs. The first set has a nice Watermelon Man opener and a fine version of Subterranean, an Oteil joint infrequently covered by Soulive. The second set, however, is a full fledged Soulive show, with Neal joining on keys. (Alan plays the whole show.) An excellent, fluid Ghetto is followed by a fantastic stand alone version of Church, which would later become, in shortened form, the standard intro to Turn It Out for 2000 and 2001. The show peaks with a monster Jesus Children closer, raw and loose, and packed with extended solos from Jason Crosby on violin and James Hurt on Melodica. The Kraz and Friends shows are all from Peter Costello’s on-stage rig, but don’t circulate widely. Keep your eyes peeled and snatch ‘em if you get the chance.
Soulive, 4/30/03, Tipitina’s, NOLA
This recent gig is already circulating widely, and for good reason. Early in the single set, John Scofield appears for a rare incarnation of Scolive. The quartet first plays Watchu See Is Whatchu Get from Sco’s new album, followed by an extremely rare, blissfully smooth Nealization. The guest appearance concludes with a monster, fifteen-plus minute version of Hottentot, with an extended guitar conversation late in the performance.
Next up, Sam K., Ryan Zoidis, Nicholas Payton and Fred Wesley join as yet another version of the Soulive horns, for Slow Maceo, only to be joined by Ivan Neville for a streamlined JCA > Stay. The latter joint has some exceptional backing work from the horns section. As if all this isn’t enough, Karl Denson joins for Cannonball, unleashing a long, fluid solo early on. Once Fred gets involved and the horn section jumps into the fray, this one explodes. It’s all Eric can do to try to rein it in at the end. Denson sticks around for the closing Fast Maceo, which is as crazy as everything else at this show. To encore, Sco, the horns, even Adam Deitch (on cowbell) joins for Do It Again. While Neal definitely plays a supporting role for most of this show, he embodies the funk on the encore, swaying and spanking the groove throughout. This show is THE Soulive family reunion show, a powerhouse performance worth repeated listens.

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