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Great Sky River

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 31, 2001
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Editorial Reviews

Made up of seasoned players like Jimmy Herring from the Aquarium Rescue Unit, former Santana bassist Alfonso Johnson, and Dixie Dregs alums keyboardist T Lavitz and drummer Rod Morgenstein, Jazz Is Dead doesn't function so much as a Grateful Dead cover band than as an outfit that uses Dead gems as jumping-off points for a sonic journey that leads the listener not into well-traveled grooves, but into an enthralling soundscape without rules, vocals, or fixed time signatures. Superior playing and that special brand of ESP that all good jam bands possess further enrich these adroit and artful reinterpretations of Dead songs. "St Stephen" and "The Eleven" come out sounding like a cross between Indian bazaar music and the Allman Brothers (Herring spent a year filling in for an ailing Dickie Betts in the Allmans). Recorded live at the IMAC Theater in Huntington, New York, this disc captures all the nuances and guitar wizardry that Herring can wring out of his instrument, but one suspects that this band is even more spectacular live. --Jaan Uhelszki

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. China Cat Sunflower
  2. Estimated Prophet
  3. St. Stephen/The eleven
  4. Drums & Jam
  5. Blues For Allah
  6. Terrapin Station/Dark Star
  7. Terrapin 2
  8. Morning Dew

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 31, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Zebra Records
  • ASIN: B00005MLNX
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,338 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Jazz Is Dead Store

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
This albulm offers some amazing sounds which will appeal to a unique audience....
If you do not like technically intricate music, you need not apply. If you do not like the Greatful Dead, this albulm may not appeal to you. If you like both, especially the Terrapin Station albulm, you're on board.
This is, without a doubt, my favorite album of all time (and I have access to thousands of releases). Great Sky River is the most agressive of the three Jazz is Dead offerings, and with the talent Jazz is Dead demonstrates, the more aggressive the better.
When I say agressive, I don't necessarily refer to speed, I refer more to the individual artists style. In some cases this album is melodic, thundering, soothing, technical, etc...In a live setting.
Jimmy Herring is the quintessential guitar player. He show's pros how to play the guitar, period. I actually find myself consistently overwhelmed by how awesome he really is on this album (and others, I also recommend 'Project Z('s)' new album). If you love guitar, please listen to this album (at least). He really delivers on so many fronts, chords, scales, tone. The critical comment I have is that Jimmy (and maybe the Sound personnel is to blame) drowns out the melody while he's playing the harmony at times (e.g., St. Stephan). But this guy smokes, like no other I've heard, e.g. Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hendrix, Trey....He is really that awesome! One close listen to 'The Eleven' on this albulm will clearly [at least] show why I make such a bold statement. Future guitarists: Buy any thing Jimmy plays on and take good notes, as far as I can recon., this man is the mecca of guitar performance.
While I drool over Jimmy's playing, the other three players on this album have both chops and soul, they're forces to be reckoned with.
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By A Customer on September 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
Now don't get me wrong, I dig this CD, the sound is good, the tracks are more or less good, but I cannot put it in the same league as Blue Light Rain or Laughing Water. I think BLR was the quinticensial JID album. Billy, Jimmy, Alfonso, and T. all did a masterful job of capturing the the true jazzy essence of the Dead's music. That album was perfectly executed, no one overplayed and everyone's playing just melted together to form a cohesive body of pure soulful music. Jimmy did not display his mind bending licks on that album, but he did showcase his uncanny ability to create beautiful flowing melodies that rolled along with the music. Herring played some extemely tastey stuff even if he wasn't pushing the envelope of his technical ability. Very rarely have I heard a band so in tune to each other. If you disagree with me just go and give that album a thourough listening, they are so tight and the music is so perfect (not to mention the sound, its hard to tell that it is all live). Laughing Water was another great CD, although I'd rank it just the slightest bit below BLR. LW does feature different drummers (Sipe and Morganstein) and that does really change the sound of the band (not in a bad way at all, just different). The band did lose a little of that Billy Cobham swagger that only Billy can provide, but Jeff and Rod were more than worthy replacements. Herring also switched to a PRS guitar with a ballzier set up which sort said goodbye to the sweet Fender tones of BLR and opened the door for those heavy distorted mind bending crunchy licks that Herring is the master of. I love this album because it takes slighly heavier approach to the music and Herring really steps up to the plate and delivers some amazing stuff while still keeping a lid on it to a certain extent.Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
And sorry for the sacrilege, but not every Dead album or traded tape is "essential", either. Great Sky River by Jazz is Dead brings joy to this old Deadhead, and I happily recommend that you add it to your own "Vault". The old familiar riffs are there, the changes and bridges are there, and the jams are beautiful, powerful, and perhaps best of all, NEW.
From the initial happy hop-along trills of China Cat Sunflower through the beautifully realized St.Stephen>The Eleven to the conclusion of the spine-chilling Morning Dew, Jazz is Dead never fails to find the musical core of what makes these tunes memorable and beloved. And the superb talent of Herring, Johnson, Lavitz and Morgenstein adds what was sometimes missing from Dead performances - energy, enthusiasm and freshness.
Just as great stories do not suffer from being retold by others than the author, great music does not suffer from being played by new hands in new times. Jazz is Dead shows why this music will survive. Their versions will join the originals as "essential".
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Format: Audio CD
Finally the trilogy has been completed. I loved their first 2 CDs so I had to pick this one up right away. Here�s my basic critique of the album. Jazz Is Dead crank out hyper extended jam rock versions of Grateful Dead classics. Their albums are definitely a must have for Deadheads if you don�t mind an absence of lyrics, but I say, kick back, relax and make up your own. Led by the burning guitar lines of Jimmy Herring (who now plays with Phil Lesh and sat in last summer with the Allman Bros) and held together but the fat grooving bass of Alphonso Johnson (was in Bobby & The Midnites), the band�s improvisations are consistently intriguing; it�ll blow your mind to hear searing renditions of �Blues for Allah�, �China Cat Sunflower� and �Terrapin Station� (Parts I & II)�. I know some of you may think it�s blasphemous for anyone to cover GD, but any true fan knows they have to get this CD for one reason only, a beautifully recorded version of the majestic �Morning Dew�! It�s refreshing to finally get a version of that song on CD. I personally think if your looking to whet your appetite with a new tasty flavor of an old recipe then take a leisurely dip in the Great Sky River.
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