The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 1: Legion of Mary

Jerry Garcia

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The Jerry Garcia Collection, Vol. 1: Legion of Mary Review

by Thom Jurek

Legion of Mary is the first volume in Rhino's Jerry Garcia collection. It features the jazz-oriented band Garcia and Merl Saunders ran in the mid-'70s that also included John Kahn on bass, Martin Fierro on saxophones and flute, and drummer Ron Tutt (none of these recordings feature Bill Vitt, who appeared on the Fantasy Records' issues Live at the Keystone). The two discs here feature 14 selections recorded at either the aforementioned club, the Portland Theater and the Great American Music Hall; none of the material has been previously released. The first disc includes readings of Bob Dylan's "Tough Mama," and Robbie Robertson's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," as well as the staple "I Second That Emotion." But the greatest surprise is the improvisation in "Talkin' 'Bout You" that closes the disc. Garcia's interplay with Saunders is simply magical, and Fierro's saxophone work here pushes them both. The second disc ranges from rollicking early rock & roll classics like "Let It Rock" and "Mystery Train," to more Motown tunes such as "Money Honey" and "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved by You." The playing is off-kilter funky, relaxed but adventurous throughout. While fans have much of this stuff on bootleg, this official release features a fine package, decent sound, and a great liner essay by Blair Jackson.

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