Jerry Garcia

Legion of Mary: Absolute Mary

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This premium was made available to those who purchased the Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 1: Legion of Mary (2005) double-CD package. The sole caveat being, it had to be procured through the artist's own Internet-based boutique -- online at Absolute Mary (2005) is an extension of the music presented on the larger set, serving up another half-dozen examples of the intricate interaction and group exploration that became the hallmark of Jerry Garcia's solo units. With the notable exception of the instrumental improvisation "LOM Jam," the chosen material reflects the eclectic nature of the ensemble, which was co-led by Garcia (guitar/vocals) and Merl Saunders (organ/vocals). Supporting the duo are the formidable rhythm section of John Kahn (bass) and Ron Tutt (drums), as well as former Sir Douglas Quintet member Martin Fierro (sax/flute). Legion of Mary were a decidedly jazzier outfit than future Garcia side projects. Their collective sense of sonic discovery reaches far beyond the demands of each song. The remake of Bob Dylan's "Wicked Messenger" has a brooding quality that slinks around, methodically moving through the melody. Conversely, the cover of Stevie Wonder's "Boogie on Reggae Woman" is a full-blown funky workout with Saunders supplying the ragged but right vocals. "It's No Use" provides a platform for the quintet to sink its proverbial chops into the blues. Garcia, Saunders, and Fierro are in peak form and waste no time in trading lines and displaying their irrefutably incendiary talents. Sadly, the Legion of Mary lasted a mere six months and by the summer of 1975 Nicky Hopkins (keyboard/vocals) had replaced Saunders and the combo was rechristened the Jerry Garcia Band.

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