Allman Brothers Band & Little Feat: Jam Today, Jam Tomorrow
In contrast to the Allman Brothers Band's full-bore concert at the New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival is Little Feat's carefully pruned single live disc Rocky Mountain Jam. Rocky Mountain Jam is not typical of the most recent Little Feat live recordings, whether released by Hot Tomato (Barnstorming Live, Volumes 1 & 2 (2006), Little Feat: Highwire Act Live In St. Louis 2003 (2004), and Down Upon The Suwannee River) (2003) or Munck Music. Jam is an abbreviated release occupying a single disc (as all of the above mentioned are multiple discs), a cherry-picked collection of exceptional performances from a single show.
The only real surprise is the opening "Marginal Creatures from Chinese Work Songs (CMC International, 2000). Often criticized for the lack of Lowell George's erudition, Paul Barrere with Fred Tackett penned a relentless, guitar-driven juggernaut with lyrics rivaling those of George's "Mercenary Territory. From a programming point of view, "Marginal Creatures is a perfect set opener, no matter how contrived the order of this set. Barrere's superior slide guitar playing coupled with his simpatico association with Tackett's guitar over the past 20 years achieves a standard fo musicianship high enough to make Jam a recommendable release even to those listeners who may feel they have all of the live Feat he or she may want.
Barrere and Tackett have honed their combined guitar playing to a razor edge. In the introduction to the Lowell George-era "Rocket In My Pocket, the two guitarists contrapuntally spar, weaving standard and slide guitar together in a structure that would make Bach smile. The center of any Little Feat concert will always be "Dixie Chicken and this release is no different. The band has always used the piece as a vehicle for improvisations of all types and its performance has evolved overtime.
On Down Upon The Suwannee River, Barrere introduced the piece with "Lafayette Railroad from Dixie Chicken (Warner Bros, 1973), initially unrecognizable due to Fred Tackett's Miles Davis-like muted trumpet. Bill Payne adds a tease quote from "Day Or Night from The Last Record Album (Warner Bros, 1975) before sliding into the familiar strains of "Railroad. Seamlessly, Railroad gives way to an incendiary "Dixie Chicken complete with a Kenny Gradney bass solo and a Bill Payne performance of Bach's "Goldberg Variations" aria.
On Jam, "Dixie Chicken has retained Paul Barrere's practice of recent years of introducing the song with a tease from Miles Davis' "So What, replete with Tackett's aforementioned trumpet, leading into a tease on the Grateful Dead's "Dark Star (both uncredited on this present recording) before the familiar jaunt of the song begins. In recent years, after the first verse, most anything can happen. Kenny Gradney has been afforded bass solo time as well as Bill Payne being given time to spread out. In the current performance, Payne inserts "Fighting The Mosquito Wars from Kickin' It At The Barn among the festivities.
The song ends 21 minutes later following radioactive solos by Barrere (on slide guitar) and Tackett. The show closes with a driving "Feats Don't Fail Me Now. While Rocky Mountain Jam may at first glance look like a throw-off release with no purpose, the performances are superb, amply illustrating the vast talent wielded by the post Lowell George Little Feat.
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Tracks and Personnel
2007 New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival
Tracks: Introduction; Don't Want You No More > Cross To Bear; Ain't Wasting Time No More; Gilded Splinters; Equipment Change; Rockin' Horse; Statesboro Blues; Melissa; Trouble No More; Into The Mystic; Equipment Check; Desdemona; Midnight Rider; Every Hungry Woman; Dreams; Guest Introductions; The Weight; Jessica; Band Introductions; One Way Out; Stage announcements.
Personnel: Gregg Allman: vocals, keyboards; Butch Trucks: drums; Jaimoe Johnson: drums; Warren Haynes: guitars, vocals; Marc Quinones: percussion; Oteil Burbridge: bass; Derek Trucks: guitars.
Rocky Mountain Jam
Tracks: Marginal Creatures; On Clear Moment/Sunday Jam; Rocket In My Pocket; Spanish Moon/Skin It Back; Dixie Chicken; Feats Don't Fail Me Now.
Personnel: Fred Tackett: vocals, guitar, mandolin, trumpet; Paul Barrere: vocals, guitar, harmonica; Bill Payne: vocals, keyboards; Richie Hayward: vocals, drums; Shaun Murphy: vocals, tambourine; Sam Clayton: vocals, percussion; Kenny Gradney: bass guitar.