On their sophomore release, Laughing Water, Jazz is Dead continues their mission of presenting the catalog of the Grateful Dead in sort of a country-rock context, with occasional classical, gospel, and jazz flavoring. It's unpretentious, infectious jamming by musicians with virtuoso chops to burn. The exuberant "Let Me Sing Your Blues Away" (not a vocal) alternates hard-driving edgy guitar choruses with fleet-fingered, grooving organ. "Row Jimmy" has a laid-back country-rock feel. The next tune, "Stella Blue," begins with an almost-classical fugue, before settling into a country/gospel-flavored ballad. Classical influences rock on "Here Comes the Sun/Sunshine Jam." While the soloing is excellent throughout, the closing "Weather Report Suite, part 2/Let It Grow" (not a reference to the famous jazz ensemble) turns the heat up the highest. Bassist Alphonso Johnson contributes some funky thumb-snapping in places. In other words, boundaries are stretched or even totally disregarded here. There's not much in the way of jazz, traditionally speaking, other than in the quality of the improvization. It's just a musical good time - perfect keg parties or cruising down the highway. (Zebra ZD 44019)
Tracks:Mississippi Half-step Toodle-oo; Let Me Sing Your Blues Away; Row Jimmy; Stella Blue; Here Comes the Sun/Sunshine Jam; Eyes of the World/Two Sisters; Weather Report Suite, Part 1; Weather Report Suite, Part 2/Let It Grow. (62:48)
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand
Why do I love jazz? Well, depending on what you mean by jazz, I can send an answer in any number of directions. Briefly, I was exposed to this crazy music as a little boy, my dad good friends with the local music store, where he bought sheet music to play from his baby grand. Their massive record collection, my parents taking me to concerts and clubs (only one of five kids to do so), the Magnavox furniture stereo/radio ... it all added up. It was complex, emotional music. And it had rhythm! I drummed and followed the music through the '60s even as I enjoyed the new musics of my generation.
Along with side-trips to other musicians and music, it's been one hell of a pony ride ever since.