Sunday, September 26, 2010

Derek Trucks Band's Multi-Genre and Multi-Cultural "Roadsongs" Excels

Derek Trucks is one of music’s most interesting bands and their recordings always appeal to many. They are even better as a live band and this is their most recent live recording. This review is several months old and appeared in Jazz & Blues Report and I made a few minor stylistic changes.

As good as their studio recordings have been, The Derek Trucks Band is an even better live band that is unquestionably a reason for the groups popularity. Vocalist Mike Mattison in the booklet for this states it simply, “This was a multi-generational, multi-cultural, and above all, live band.” (emphasis in original). They have previously issued “Live at the Georgia Theater” on the band’s own, and a Live DVD was issued after the “Songlines” album, that have displayed this. “Roadsongs” has been issued by Sony legacy and is a two CD release (106 minutes of music and priced as a single CD) that is the Trucks’ Band first live CD issued by a major label. It was recorded in April, 2010 at The Park West in Chicago with the DTB of Mike Mattison on vocals; Todd Smallie on bass & vocals; Yonrico Scott on drums and vocals; Kofi Burbridge, keyboards, flute and vocals and Count M’Butu on percussion on vocals augmented by a three piece horn section that provide added color to the performances in their arrangements.

The Derek Trucks Band is centered around the phenomenal playing of Mr. Trucks whose highly vocalized playing brings elements of the blues slide guitar tradition, the blues-based style of Duane Allman as well as the sacred steel guitarists with whom Trucks has often shared the stage with. He constructs horn-like lines with his keen, whining tone conjuring up the human voice as the band rocks solidly behind him. Yonrico Scott is a terrific and responsive, jazz-rooted drummer, while Smallie keeps the groove steady and Burbridge is a strong keyboard player as well as accomplished flautist while M’Butu adds his distinctive rhythmic accent. Mattison is a soulful singer that brings a convincing voice to the blues, reggae, rock and other material represented here.

The music ranges from the bluesy “I’ll Find My Way,” and “Down in the Flood,” from Bob Dylan’s songbook; reggae with a gospel tinge on “Sailin’ On,” as a homage to John Coltrane on the Mongo Santamaria classic “Afro-Blues,” with Burbridge on flute stating the them e in unison with Trucks blistering guitar. “Get What You Deserve,” is built upon a familiar blues riff with a terrific slide solo. “Days Is Almost Gone,” is a soul ballad (with gospel roots), more splendid singing and stinging guitar. Bob Marley’s “Rastaman Chant,” is another extended instrumental jam for with Trucks incorporating a French Children’s song as part of his melodic development. A very strong rendition“Key to the Highway,” some terrific piano from Burbridge under Trucks driving solo. This disc certainly stands as a souvenir for fans of The Derek Trucks Band, but more importantly it is a superb recording by one of the most interesting and electrifying bands of any genre today.

For FTC purposes, the review copy was sent by either the record label or a firm handling publicity for this release.

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