NEW-LOOK ALLMANS SOUND STILL REIGNS
Palm Beach Post
By BILL MEREDITH
Jam bands are the music industry’s current rage, even if most are only non-jazz groups that improvise (often because they can’t compose decent music).
But 30 years before the term existed, the Allman Brothers Band was pushing the improv envelope – plus composing great material with influences of jazz, blues. , Gospel, rock and Latin music.
Friday night at the Coral Sky Arnphitheatre, the Allmans proved their superiority over jamming imitators with a colossal 21/2-hour set of classic material and new tunes from a forthcoming untitled CD.
Derek Trucks, a 23-yearold guitarist, is part of the new-look Allmans, without original guitarist Dickey Betts for the first time ever, and Trucks’ self-titled quintet opened the show with a varied hour-long set. The stellar slide guitarist and fingerpicker played well beyond his years in leading keyboardist/flautist Kofi Burbridge, bassist Todd Smallie and drummer Yonrico Scott through hypnotic instrumentals such as Mongo Santamaria’s Ajro Blue.
Vocalist Mike Madison was also impressive, showing a strong falsetto and deliver-
ing an impassioned Home In Your Heart, the R&B gem from Trucks’ new Joyful Noise
After toweling off, Trucks returned to the front line, along with venerable vocalist/keyboardist Gregg Allman and guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes. Bassist Oteil Burbridge (Kofi’s brother) and drummer Butch Trucks (Derek’s uncle) completed the family affair, opening the time-honored medley Don’t Want You No More/it’s Not My Cross To Bear with second drummer Jaimoe and percussionist Marc Quinones.
With legendary producer and engineer Tom Dowd sitting onstage, the guitarists added inspired harmonic ideas to the classics Black Hearted Woman and Trouble No More. Allman, a smoker no more, was at his peak blues-growl vocal form on End of the Line, from the underrated 1991 CD Shades of 7W Worlds.
The elder Trucks (the only band member besides Allman to appear on every album) says he’s having more fun with the group since before original guitarist Duane Allman’s death in 1971.
But if Betts was always the band’s second-best vocalist and soloist, he was an outstanding composer, writing standards such as Blue Sky, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed and Jessica. The group’ new material would prove whether it could exist without the mercurial guitarist, but the blues of Desdamona; the ballad Old Before My Time and the instrumental Firiing Line showed that the new-look AlImans haven’t lost their old school sound.
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