How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
On their sophomore release, 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 exhuberant "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:Vocal intro/Mississippi Half - Step Toodleoo; Let Me Sing Your Blues Away; Row Jimmy; Stella Blue; Vocal intro/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. (62:43)