By: C. Michael Bailey
For: All About Jazz
The Allman Brothers Band
2007 New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival
In the past decade, the Allman Brothers Band has evolved into a finely tuned cohesive unit that specializes in improvisational rock music. Colloquially, the Allmans, like Little Feat, Wide Spread Panic, and the String Cheese Incident, may be considered jam bands. The prototypical jam band was the Grateful Dead. After the death of guitarist Jerry Garcia, the Dead disbanded, leaving a void for their large cult following, who quickly switched to Phish and the above mentioned bands for their cultural fix.
Of all active jam bands, the Allman Brothers might be considered to exist as the neo-prototype. With 40 years of creative experience, the Allmans have amassed a huge book from which to draw for concerts. Their last studio recording, Hittin’ The Note, infused that book with new concert favorites that include “Woman Across The River,” “Instrumental Illness,” “Rockin’ Horse,” and “Desdemona,” the latter two being included in the band’s set at the 2007 New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival.
The Allman Brothers appeared on the Gentilly Stage May 5th to an appreciative crowd, providing a typically lengthy show of the standard Allman book (“Statesboro Blues,” “One Way Out” and “Dreams”) as well as covers the band has recently been performing (“Walk On Gilded Splinters,” “Into The Mystic,” and “The Weight”). The band still sports two of the finest electric blues slide guitarists in Derek Truck and Warren Haynes. I give Trucks the nod for superior slide chops, though he still runs and distant second to Louisiana’s own Sonny Landreth.
All performances were solid, including the Dickey Betts numbers that the band has hung onto like the lengthy “Jessica” and compare favorably to the Instant Live releases by the band over the past two years. This show did not feature “Mountain Jam” or “Whipping Post,” revealing the band’s employment of the newer material as heavy improvisational vehicles. Gregg Allman’s voice is in excellent form and the band never ceases to amaze with the intensity and fire with which they continue to play as the road truly goes on forever.