Jeff Beck: Performing This Week... Live at Ronnie Scott's (2008)
, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and young bass phenom Tal WilkenfeldBeck is at the top of his game, burning through a 70-minute set of material ranging from the gripping "Beck's Bolero," from his 1968 debut, Truth (Epic), to the seemingly-impossible bends of the amblingly up-tempo "Nadia," from You Had It Coming (Epic, 2001). Beck also pays homage to contemporaries John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham on a smoking "Eternity's Breath," from Visions of the Emerald Beyond (Legacy, 1975) that segues into the hard-rocking "Stratus," from Spectrum (Atlantic, 1973).
Still, how he does it is not as important as that he does it, since Beck has demonstrated a frustrating tendency to disappear without notice and then suddenly reappear on the scene throughout his lengthy career. With one of his best live groups in yearskeyboardist Jason Rebello
Beck's tone has always been instantly recognizable, proving the magic is in the hands, not the technology. While the distinctive quality of Beck's playing has always been acknowledged, he's rarely provided evidence of the kind of virtuosity that would place him on par with guitarists like McLaughlin. His vernacular may not be as broad, but when it comes to shredding, Beck's high octane virtuosity on the frenzied and lightning-fast version of "Scatterbrain," from his classic Blow by Blow (Epic, 1975), is just plain staggering. Elsewhere, Stevie Wonder's "Cause We've Ended as Lovers," also from Blow by Blow, finds Beck at his most poignant; his judicious use of whammy bar, volume control and naturally impeccable note placement making it a definitive performance of this enduring tune.
Colaiuta and Rebello are ideal accompanists, with plenty of cathartic energy when needed and no shortage of viscerally propulsive rhythms. Performing This Week's other star is, however, Wilkenfeld, who seemingly came out of nowhere a couple years back as one of the most versatile and exciting young electric bassists to emerge in years, capable of unshakable grooves and solos that demonstrate a maturity and taste beyond her years.
With a stellar group, a stunning cross-section of career-defining material and his own playing never better, Performing This Week... Live at Ronnie Scott's is the live album Jeff Beck fans have been waiting for...and the perfect entry point for those who've never had the pleasure of making his acquaintance.
Track Listing: Beck's Bolero; Eternity's Breath; Stratus; Cause We've Ended As Lovers; Behind The Veil; You Never Know; Nadia; Blast From The East; Led Boots; Angels (Footsteps); Scatterbrain; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat /Brush With The Blues; Space Boogie; Big Block; A Day In The Life; Where Were You.
Personnel: Jeff Beck: guitars; Vinnie Colaiuta: drums; Jason Rebello: keyboards; Tal Wilkenfeld: bass.
Record Label: Eagle Records
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock