Jerry Garcia Band

Jerry Garcia Band

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Even though Jerry Garcia (guitar/vocals) remained at the helm of the Grateful Dead in the '90s, many enthusiasts felt as if his passions lay with his solo congregate. The eponymously titled double-CD set boasts over two hours of support for that theory. Jerry Garcia Band (1991) was documented in 1990 from a series of shows at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. The quartet is led by the guitarist and features longtime Garcia associate John Kahn (bass), Melvin Seals (keyboards), David Kemper (drums), Gloria Jones (vocals), and Jackie LaBranch (vocals). The selections accurately image the wide spectrum of pop, R&B, rock and soul covers Garcia and company played circa the late '80s and early '90s. In a wise move, producers Garcia, Kahn, and John Cutler decided not to tread heavily into the Dead's expansive catalog. Only a churning gospel-flavored reading of "Deal" cross between each combo's respective and distinct styles. Garcia's rush upon rush of incendiary fretwork equals the verve in practically any Grateful Dead rendering during the early '90s. However, the primary focus is divided between the superior choice of material and equally adroit execution. Robbie Robertson's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and Allen Toussaint's "Get Out My Life" had become staples of Garcia's non-Dead repertoire as far back as the mid-'70s. They have matured comfortably, yet retained a potency which continues to propel and inspire Garcia and Seals' interactive and intuitive solos. The same holds for John Kahn's prominence on Dylan's "Simple Twist of Fate" and the languid pulsation he summons on the Beatles' "Dear Prudence." As an ensemble, the Jerry Garcia Band keep the funky syncopated synergies and intricate instrumentation of los Lobos' uptempo and rollicking "Evangeline," or the spacey and heavily jammed reading of Jesse Stone's R&B rave-up "Don't Let Go." The latter adopts a jazzy shuffle and is punctuated by some of Garcia's stretched out psychedelic contributions. While there is not a subpar track on this collection, other pieces worthy of mention are the languid "Lucky Old Sun," which is swaddled in Jones and LaBranch's soulful vocals. The even groove of Bruce Cockburn's "Waiting for a Miracle" is interpreted by Garcia with the same conviction he lent to many of Robert Hunter's more poignant lyrics. The initiated and initially curious alike will find much to enjoy and discover throughout Jerry Garcia Band.

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