The Grateful Dead . You either love them or hate them, but there’s no denying their influence on the American music scene. Probably no group has contributed more to the American songbook then the Grateful Dead . Only the enigmatic Bob Dylan has probably contributed more to the lexicon of American song.
With the death of the bands leader, Jerry Garcia, in 1995 the Grateful Dead’s “long strange trip” finally came to an end, but the 1990’s also saw the rise of the tribute band and the Grateful Dead have their share.
Some groups, notably Dark Star Orchestra , attempt to accurately recreate specific Grateful Dead concerts, and if you’ve ever visited the Live Music Archive at Archive.org you know that there are 2,870 Grateful Dead concerts collected there, Grateful Dead on archive.org ,from which Dark Star Orchestra can choose.
The very nature of the Dead’s music, specifically their long modal jams, begs for another interpretation of their work. Only Jazz with its free form nature, and it’s love of the “jam” is able to take their music, and while retaining its original feel and structure, manages to make it something different and new.
Joe Gallant is a bassist and composer, a member of the free jazz group Prima Materia , but he is also the leader of the unconventional big band Illuminati. Unlike most big bands Illuminati dispenses with some of the brass in favor of vibes, strings and electric keyboard. Recorded live at New York City’s The Knitting Factory Blues for Allah shares the loose, ecstatic, feelings of 60’s R&B and R&R.
Joe Gallant and Illuminati – Blues For Allah Project
(Knitting Factory, 1996)
Playing Time: 1 hour 12 minutes 41 seconds
1. Invocation (1:58)
2. Help On The Way/Slipnot!/Franklin’s Tower (18:27)
3. King Solomon’s Marbles (7:58)
4. The Music Never Stopped (6:57)
5. Crazy Fingers (12:07)
6. Sage And Spirit (3:46)
7. Prelude (0:53)
8. Blues For Allah (20:35)
Jazz is Dead originally consisted of jazz fusion veterans; Alphonso Johnson (bass, Weather Report), T. Lavitz (keyboards, Dixie Dregs), Jimmy Herring (guitar, Aquarium Rescue Unit) and Billy Cobham (drums, Mahavishnu Orchestra).
1999 saw the group interpreting theGrateful Dead’s 1973 classic Wake of the Flood . Billy Cobham had left the group by this time but his departure opened the door for two drummers; Jeff Sipe and Rod Morgenstein. Rounding out the group for these sessions were guest violinist Vassar Clements, guitarists Steve Kimock and Derek Trucks and former Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux.
Jazz is Dead – Laughing Water (Zebra, 1999)
Playing Time: 1 hour 2 minutes 46 seconds
1. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleoo (6:07)
2. Let Me Sing Your Blues Away (5:50)
3. Row Jimmy (7:54)
4. Stella Blue (7:07)
5. Here Comes Sunshine (13:02)
6. Eyes of the World (10:08)
7. Weather Report Suite. Part 1 (5:26)
8. Weather Report Suite. Part 2: Let It Grow (7:12)
Jazz is Dead – Great Sky River (Zebra, 2001)
Playing Time: 1 hour 8 minutes 3 seconds
1. China Cat Sunflower (5:41)
2. Estimated Prophet (15:23)
3. St.Stephen/The Eleven (12:23)
4. Drums & Jam (4:08)
5. Blues For Allah (3:21)
6. Terrapin Station (17:40)
7. Morning Dew (9:27)