Jim Hudak

Gratefully Yours

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The best word to describe Jim Hudak's piano interpretations of Grateful Dead songs might be "precious." Another, of course, might be "hideous." While Hudak occasionally strikes upon something sublime, he mostly just plays cocktail versions of Grateful Dead tunes. With the exception of an unimpressive original number, the material is exclusively drawn from the band's late-'60s/early-'70s output, as they bore into Americana-influenced rock numbers that sounded as if they could've been lifted off some anonymous roadhouse jukebox. Unfortunately, in his monochromatic delivery of the tunes' melodies, the once-distinct songs blend together in a haze of white wine and dinner jazz. These rank among the lesser realizations of the Grateful Dead's songbook that have been released since Jerry Garcia's death in 1995. For more interesting interpretations, one should check out David Murray's Dark Star (adventurous jazz readings) or the Persuasions' Might As Well (warm, mostly a cappella renditions).

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