40th Anniversary: Saturday 3/14
The first Saturday night is an epic show, a heaping helping, double-stuffed, supersized, meaty, beaty, big and bouncy. It’s also jazzy, but we’ll get to that…
Another “Little Martha” opener, lovely, with Oteil joining Derek and Warren. Then Derek works it on out on “Aint Wastin’ Time No More,” a song that was made for him; Warren offers a nice solo at the end. Then right into “Walk On Gilded Splinters,” heavy on the back end as Warren and Derek slather on the Tabasco. Next Oteil turns around, offers the drummers a funky, almost Philly soul bassline. Warren pours hot lines over a happenin’ little groove, Derek soars over the top… then it flips over into “Rocking Horse” with a mighty oomph.
Out of Warren’s solo on the mid-section break, the music ebbs, slows to an almost-stop; Derek plays gently over the sound of winding down. Oteil pulls out into a happy gallop, and Derek paints over the top, then he’s taking his “Rocking Horse” solo, but over what is now a totally different song. Then, finally, bam-bam, Warren takes us back to the Horse for the back end vocals… and out of the song, beautifully into “Gambler’s Roll,” dripping with dewy blues. Warren squeezes out teardrops of tone. All it is, is the blues, but no other band, anywhere, makes the blues this epic. Gregg sings the hell out of the song; the “Rocking Horse” into “Gambler’s Roll” is a stone cold highlight, bluesy and sweaty and perfect.
“Revival” starts and ends as a dance party, with a hot jam in between. “Woman Across the River” is twelve minutes in the smokehouse, nothing subtle, just the fire, Warren and band shoveling coal with frantic urgency. Then Randy Brecker and drummer Lenny White join the band for a rare, divine first set “Dreams.” Brecker’s trumpet embellishes the verse as he punches in between Gregg’s vocal lines; Warren comes in for his solo like a lion, goes out like a lamb. Then Brecker does the dance of life at the precipice of the abyss, the pure essence of the song after all; Derek gets on his pony and rides. Brecker blows cold steel over a hard outro.
Gregg strums into a lovely, lilting “Melissa” to start the second set. Then Robert Randolph comes on for “Lovelight;” with drummer Adam Nussbaum sitting in for Jaimoe. Brother Robert testifies on the pedal steel, then Brother Gregg on the vocals. I’ve heard from the Moogis home audience that Randolph was low in the mix; but he was plenty loud in the house. Randolph rollicks with band, throwing off white light until the song is almost “Jessica,” with Randolph shining over the top. Then the music yields to a muscular drum interlude, Nussbaum still on Jaimoe’s kit, then out of the drumming a slow, gradual, snaky entrance into “One Way Out.” But it picks up speed quickly; Warren goes around two times, then Randolph goes around two times, the second time going through the roof.
Nussbaum and Randolph exit, Lenny White and Randy Brecker return, and slowly music begins to seep out that takes shape as the Miles Davis tune “In a Silent Way.” The Brothers have assayed this number before, but never like this. Brecker sounds vaguely Spanish, directly evoking Miles Davis himself on a slow opening theme that is clear as a bell (and of course, if you were a bell, you’d go—well, you know.) Derek floats overhead, Brecker runs the voodoo down, Derek and Oteil are totally simpatico, drawn visibly, physically to him. The Allman Brothers sound bubbles up through the jazz at the part near the end that hints at “Birdland” (why does this song sound like “Birdland”? “Well, Zawinul wrote ‘em both,” Oteil pointed out to me once.) The Allman Brothers blues and the Miles jazz blend together, Derek composes on the spot as the music wanes, then 1, 2, 3, 4 and “Liz Reed.”
Brecker goes all Spanish/Latin/jazzy, right in tune with the song; Derek rips, it is a less introspective, more hard-charging night for him. He leans over to Oteil, and they put their flames together. Gregg’s solo is “on,” Warren careens out of time, frenetically, perfectly forward, faster, hotter, then the riffs deliver a release into the drum solo; more nights than not so far, there has not been a true drum solo. This one is taut, muscular;, then Oteil joins in, then legend Stanley Clarke strolls out to appreciative applause. He checks in with Lenny White, still on Jaimoe’s kit; then leads the furnace, laying down a rumble of low thunder. He adds an exclamation point of bass, high-fives Oteil, then walks of. Very “who was that masked man?” Hard not to wish he’d been on stage for the entire “In a Silent Way” and “Liz” interlude, but he had a gig on Long Island and probably got out of a car, dashed in the door, strapped on the bass and hit it.
Derek is back, he and Oteil improvise over drums; then Warren and Gregg return and Derek and Warren do the push me/pull you into the closing theme.
So now it’s 11:40, already a long show, so you figure, a quick “Southbound” and out. But no—Butch thump thumpa-thumps into “Mountain Jam.” Warren, Derek, and Oteil each suggest the theme to “Birdland,” a brief consensus is reached and Warren solos over the melody; then he goes off the page, and back into the “Jam” jam. Soon Warren gives a sort of a Norse head toss, and the music turns over into “Dazed and Confused,” a big scary vibe, Warren puts it to bed, Butch brings “Mountain Jam back, and an awfully big finish. This one will stick to your ribs.
Added: Thursday, March 19, 2009
Reviewer: josh chasin