Jimi Hendrix

Cafe Au Go-Go Jam Session

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Recorded on March 17, 1968 at the Cafe Au Go-Go in New York, these half-dozen largely instrumental jams feature Jimi Hendrix playing with Paul Butterfield (vocals and harmonica), Elvin Bishop (guitar), Harvey Brooks (bass, though his name is misspelled "Marvey Brooks" on the cover), Herbie Rich (keyboards and sax), and Buddy Miles (drums). If this technically speaking isn't a bootleg, it certainly isn't part of what's commonly considered to be his official catalog, the misspelling of Brooks' name, crude graphics, and nonexistent liner notes being three tell-tale indications. So, too, is the sound quality, which isn't so bad on the instruments, but certainly isn't great, with the few vocals there are recorded faintly and the sound balance hardly optimum. Five of the six tracks are five- to ten-minute bluesy jams that are far from proper songs, as titles like "Beginning of a Jam," "Monday Jam," and "Funky Jam" indicate, with the equally imaginatively titled "Jimi Jam" lasting nearly 15 minutes. For the most part the musicians stick to basic blues progressions around which to improvise, and though the playing is flashy and solid, really the pieces -- it's hard to call them "songs" -- aren't developed enough to be memorable. It does get more interesting as the disc progresses, and Jimi finally takes off into some truly inspired soloing on "Jamming Wing," probably so named for its resemblance to "Little Wing." Still, most Hendrix fans will be disappointed in this record owing to its lack of strong songs (and singing by Jimi) and subpar sound quality, though serious aficionados will find some interesting things to study here and there.