Since guitarist Trey Anastasio is the leader of Phish, it would seem that he would sound nearly identical to his band when he's on his own. Not so. Surrender to the Air, his first solo release, recalls a free form, improvisation-based jazz record more than hippie rock; in that sense, it is close to the actual spirit of the Grateful Dead, if not their sound. Anastasio has assembled a diverse, experimental band featuring guitarist Marc Ribot, trumpeter Michael Ray, keyboardist John Medeski, and saxophonist Marshall Allen. With such a stellar cast, it isn't surprising that Anastasio lets his fellow musicians cut loose. Everyone improvises over a loose structure, disregarding conventional notions of melody or rhythms. Though Anastasio doesn't solo as much as some of his comrades, his open-minded spirit is evident throughout the record. Though many Phish fans might not initially enjoy Surrender to the Air, the guitarist should be commended for not resting on his laurels.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine