Search - Jazz Is Dead :: Blue Light Rain

Blue Light Rain
Jazz Is Dead
Blue Light Rain
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock
  •  Track Listings (7) - Disc #1

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 Jo...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Jazz Is Dead
Title: Blue Light Rain
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Zebra Records
Release Date: 6/9/1998
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock
Styles: Jazz Fusion, Jam Bands, Jazz Jam Bands, Rock Jam Bands
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 633014400926

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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CD Reviews

Accept no substitutes
Peter Paradise (Coltrain@world.std. | Boston, MA | 07/21/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Jazz is Dead asks the musical question - what if Jerry and Bob and Phil just shut up and just PLAYED? The results are mixed. By focusing on the compositions, arrangements and improvisations, JID succeeds in tightening up the Deads trademark sloppy ensemble work. The limited time they've played together adds a freshness and energy lacking from the Deads last, oh let's see...., 25 years of performances.Despite almost 35 years as a performing unit the GD remained a glorified garage band. A rehearsal tape from 1995 that captures Phil struggling to teach the band his composition Unbroken Chain underscores how little their experience helped them to understand the technical structure of music. Jazz training forces a musician to embrace the technical complexities of music. A seasoned collection of jazz musicians like JID could learn a composition like Unbroken Chain in one sitting. The GD's live performances of Unbroken Chain show a bored, jaded group going through the motions. JID performing the same composition sound fresh, tight and inspired. On paper, JID sounds like the perfect setting to interpret the GD's music. It almost is. As pathetic as the GD's vocals can be, their tunes sound thin without them. Having the guitar play the melody's just doesn't have the range necessary to bring out much depth. The GD's lyrics gave each song a cinematic quality absent from JID. It's almost like we're hearing the studio master tracks waiting for the vocal overdubs.Jimmy Herring is a fine guitarist and is able to solo through the tunes finding notes and phrases that were beyond anything Garcia ever attempted. What he can't match is the flowing, effortless quality JG had during his better moments. For all of his ability JH remains a craftsman. For all of his limitations, JG was an artist.T Lavitz has impeccable credentials. The problem is he is expected to do too much. He is at least as good as any GD keyboard player, but can't contribute enough to fill the void left by removing the vocals, JG's leads, Bobbys rhythm guitar, and a second drummer. The GD never allowed their keyboard players to embark on long solos. They discovered early on that their compositions (and audience) simply didn't respond well. Ears trained to hear jazz subtleties find it relatively easy to listen to long keyboard solos, ears raised on rock and roll find it much harder. JID should follow the GB's example, add a more dynamic solo voice and allow T Lavitz to play more of a supporting role.Billy Cobham and Tony Jackson are above reproach. One can only wonder what the GD would have sounded like with groove as tight as JIDs' to drive them. Still, as good as Cobham is, he only has four limbs and can't add the variety and depth a drummer and a world class percussionist provide. The listener is left with a choice between the GD's uneven inventiveness and JID's well oiled rhythm engine.As was the case with the GB, I suspect JID's strength may lie in live performance. I wonder if they do a second set "space jam"? If so, it would tell us a great deal about their creative potential.One thing is clear. For all their faults (perhaps because of their faults), the musical and cultural experiment called the GB will never be improved on or repeated. As a closet Jazz guy and one time Deadhead I'd like to see them live, but it would be hard to imagine touring with them to see each of their east coast shows. Their music intrigues, but doesn't have the range to captivate the following their musical model enjoyed."
Great Jazz Fusion Tribute Disk to Grateful Dead
J. E FELL | Carterville, Illinois United States | 05/24/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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". The disk also contains a heated version of Cobham's "Red Baron" from his "Spectrum" album (one of the best early jazz fusion albums w/Tommy Bolin). The cover tunes provide a basic framework but serve as a springboard for jamming and progressive musical explorations. Occasional hints of reggae and funk are added to sections of some of the songs which make them more interesting. In summary fans of great musicianship, jazz fusion and/or deadheads will find this to be an essential purchase."
Dead tunes made live tunes... | Bridgeport, WV | 08/15/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"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... we're talking about some of the best musicans around and they each,(with the exception of Sipe and Herring, although easily within the same league) have a multi-decade track record of being involved with the evolution of progressive music. If you have the opportunity to talk with them as I have, they are nice guys to boot, lacking any trace of the ego-fest that others in this genre are known for !"