Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Derek Trucks Band - Roadsongs (Sony Legacy, 2010)

After earning his stripes as a member of the Allman Brothers Band, guitarist Derek Trucks has moved beyond the usual jam band expectations, branching out to incorporate blues, world music and jazz into the repertoire of his band. High profile guest spots on recent albums by Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner go a long way toward proving his bona fides as well. This live album was recorded during a recent tour and shows the band in great road-tested form, comfortable with a multitude of genres. Trucks does not sing for the band, that task is handled by vocalist Mike Mattison, who has an appealingly smoky and soulful voice that suits the music very well, lending his gravelly sound to a nice cover of Bob Dylan's "Down in the Flood." The band is able to demonstrate their jazz chops at the end of disc one with a lengthy version of the standard "Afro-Blue" with some fine flute and percussion featured in addition to guitar. Disc two keeps going strong with a very nice version of Big Bill Broonzy's blues standard "Key to the Highway" that features some excellent slide guitar and deep vocals. They dip into a soul and world music bag with "Get Out of My Life Woman" and "Rastaman Chant" which stretch out and get in touch with their jam band roots. Derek and the Domino's blues-rock classic "Anyday" is an excellent finale for the program, with the band locked into a tight groove behind excellent guitar and passionate singing. Even though the "double live" album has become something of a cliche in rock music, this one works quite well. The jamming is focused and the band never seems to drift into pointless showboating. While it is clearly the leaders show, he is generous with solo space and opportunities for input from other band members. They make a solid collective group that covers a lot of musical ground with passion and dignity. Roadsongs - amazon.com

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