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Blue Light Rain

4.6 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 9, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

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Jazz isn't really dead, it's just looking back at the songbook and spirit of America's favorite jam band, the Grateful Dead. Featuring an all-star cast of instrumentalists including drummer Billy Cobham, bassist Alfonso Johnson, guitarist Jimmy Herring, and keyboardist T Lavitz, Jazz Is Dead reconstructs the Dead's songbook into a showcase for jazz-rock-fusion virtuosos. Interpreting classic tunes like "Scarlet Begonias" as well as a "Blues for Allah Medley," Jazz Is Dead employ a surprisingly light and empathic touch on these compositions. The band really shows off its collective talents on the Dead's infamous improv-centerpiece, "Dark Star," which blossoms into nine full minutes of a psychedelic-jazz jamfest. While not exactly a musical love-in, Herring and Lavitz solo passionately over the rock-steady rhythms of Cobham and Johnson. --Mitch Myers
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 9, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Zebra Records
  • ASIN: B000007SLB
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,676 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This disk should appeal to deadheads and nondeadheads alike. It is somewhat of a super session. Members include Jimmy Herring (Aquarium Rescue Unit & The Allman Brothers Band) on guitar, Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report & Santana) bass guitar, Billy Cobham (Miles Davis & Mahavishnu Orchestra)drums, and T Lavitz (Dixie Dregs & Steve Morse Band) on keyboards. The idea was to have jazz fusion heroes to perform instrumental versions of Grateful Dead tunes. The result is highly effective. Though not a total deadhead I am a fan of some of their more progressive music (not the country/folk stuff). It is evident that this band is musically tighter and more technically proficient than the Grateful Dead ever could be. Jimmy Herring is an underrated guitarist. He makes an economical use of every note without being overblown. Herring also projects a sweet feeling to his playing at times. If you ever wondered what it would sound like if Duane Allman or Dickey Betts joined the Grateful Dead, it might sound like this. Billy Cobham is arguably the best jazz fusion drummer. His playing sounds sort of like a more controlled yet jazzy version of Keith Moon or Ginger Baker. Alphonso Johnson works well with Cobham. His popping bass gets your feet tapping. I wonder how long they had to rehearse before aquiring this sort of telepathy between each other. T. Lavitz is adventurous yet solid on keyboards. The best part of the disk might be the song selection. The disk includes many of my favorites like great versions of "Dark Star" and "Help On The Way/Slipknot/Franklin's Tower" and "Scarlet Begonias".Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
of a fusion group consisting of extremely talented individuals, who take songs of one of musics most beloved groups, The Grateful Dead, and create a new masterpiece. The Dead`s music was always launching points for incredible music journeys, especially live, and this band continues in that vein.
From the opening Crazy Fingers with it`s wonderful interplay, to the Blues for Allah medley, where the group shows their interpretation of one the Dead`s most complex pieces, to the centerpiece of this CD, the Dead`s own musical space vehicle Dark Star.
Featuring Jimmy Herring, a soon to be household name, on guitar, Alphonso Johnson, bass master extraordinaire, keyboardist T.Lavitz, and drum legend Billy Cobham, this CD makes you hope that they continue to mine the fertile songbboks of the Dead. This was the CD that had me at the record store once a week waiting for the follow up, Laughing Water.
This will please both Dead and jazz fans, and will convert new ones.
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Format: Audio CD
Not being a GD fan but rather a fusion fan and admirer of the members' respective bands and legendary status, I found this to be a very good CD that will expose GD fans to a much higher standard of musicianship. Anyone who does not acknowledge the GD's amazingly successful career and touring draw would be someone who cannot judge the facts. I do not want to be perceived as being disrespectful of the Greatful Dead, but this is music of another standard.
Having seen the new lineup: (Rod Morganstein (Dixie Dregs/Winger/Rudess-Morganstein Project) and Jeff Sipe aka Apartment Q258 (Aquarium Rescue Unit/Col. Bruce Hampton/Jonas Hellborg) as dueling drummers and replacing Billy Cobham who is regarded as being one of the top drummers of all time and on this release, Jimmy Herring (Aquarium Rescue Unit/Col. Bruce Hampton/Allman Bros), Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report/Widespread Panic/Bruce Hornsby, T. Lavitz (Dixie Dregs cofounder/Jefferson Starship, Nils Lofgren/Mothers Finest and here ya go GD trivialists: the almost GD keyboard player (2nd choice for the seat, they wanted vocals too and chose Vince Welnick (Tubes))in Chicago on 8/14/99, it is only getting better ! This band has become a very aggressive fusion powerhouse. I thought it a little out of place to see the GD "dazed dance" being done to this format, but I was impressed by the GD fans adaptability. I think im my case it is an advantage to not know the original tunes, but I also could understand that some GD fans might feel the memory being blaspheamed and might not understand the interpretations. My recommendations, like the Dead or not, is buy this CD with an open mind and give it a spin. If you like it, make sure to check out the member's respective bands...
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Format: Audio CD
I first heard of Jazz Is Dead from my sister who saw a show of their's in Detroit when they were touring with Merl Saunders and the Rainforest Band. She was kind enough to get a tape of the show and I was blown away.
Now this all-star cast offers their instrumental treatment of classic Dead tunes from "Dark Star" to "Unbroken Chain" to a medley from the timeless album, "Blues for Allah."
Guitarist Jimmy Herring (of Aquarium Rescue Unit fame, among others) offers moving riffs that substitute for the vocal lines, while Mahivishnu Orchestra drummer-extraordinaire Billy Cobham and bassist Alphonso Johnson (toured with Santana) maintain a tight but jazzy rhythm section for T Lavitz' (Dixie Dregs co-founder, formerly of Widespread Panic) psychedelic keys add to the wonderous sound.
This album is not only testament to the incredible musical talent of this group, but also the fact that Grateful Dead wrote incredible songs. If you like the Dead or any of the aformentioned bands, you will definitely love this album!
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