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Published: 2007/11/18
by Joe Doherty

Live at the Murat – Umphrey’s McGee

SCI Fidelity

Much of the banter surrounding Umphrey’s McGee’s latest studio album, Safety in Numbers, conveyed the same unequivocally surprised sentiment unlike most jambands, Umphrey’s crafts melodic, tuneful songs without being cheesy. And with 2004’s studio gem Anchor Drops also attached to its rmthe band surely justifies this accolade. In fact, out of the crop of coming-of-age jambands, Umphrey’s has soaked up the lion’s share of the national spotlight.

Enter Live at the Murat. This two-disc package captures elite material from the group’s two-night stand at Indianapolis’ Murat Egyptian Room in April 2007. More importantly, it projects a cloudless message: Umphrey’s is still a jamband. The latter disc houses seven songs all hovering around the 10-minute mark. The first of those, “40’s Theme,” is pure jam a meticulously structured prog-rocker that quickly finds a groove, anchored by wah-wah pedals, funked-out bass and playful lyrics (“Blowin’ out smoke like Puff the Magic Dragon”). The former exhibits a more non-linear approach. The band extends an acoustic reading of “In the Kitchen,” which swells in the middle section. Jake Cinninger and Brendan Bayliss take firm hold of the reins, interweaving guitar lines while percussionist Andy Farag lays down a conga beat. The jam scaffolds to peak intensity before Cinninger and Bayliss trade in their acoustic axes for electric (“Electric Improvisation”).

Like a tormented schizophrenic, Umphrey’s mood, style and tone constantly shift from pop to prog, metal to jazz. Murat is no different. “The Triple Wide” hones in on the group’s electronica-leaning approach, made whole by digitized hand claps and a synth pad drum beat. It leads in to “Angular Momentum,” a three-minute Cinninger guitar piece supplemented by drummer Kris Myers.

After nearly 10 years as band, Murat cements Umphrey’s place as jam nation’s newest ambassadors to the world.

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