Tedeschi Trucks Band: Revelator (2011)
A natural extension of Already Free (Victor, 2009), the most recent (but hopefully not the last) studio recording by The Derek Trucks Band, the debut album by the Tedeschi Trucks Band broadens the scope of this blues-rooted music with a bigger and proportionately versatile eleven-piece band.
The entire unit kicks in on the catchy opener, "Come See About Me," as double drummers match each other's syncopation in front of a hard-pumping horn section. Kofi Burbridge spins out white-hot clavinet licks before guitarist Derek Trucks slices in with his slide and, upon Susan Tedeschi's reentry on lead vocal, additional singing by Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers echo her bittersweet tones. The joy in hearing this recording is rooted in the judicious way Trucks, as producer, and engineer Jim Scott utilize the various facets of this group's multiple skills as a means to the end of fulfilling the potential of a given song, not just production for production's sake.
There may be nothing truly new at the heart of this music, but even in its comparatively quiet moments, like "Don't Let Me Slide," there's an air of affection and respect for a grand tradition of American roots. In fact, the ingenuous approach to collaboration is what makes the rousing "Bound for Glory" work: schooled on this style of gospel and funk, these musicians sound excited by the prospect of creating their own version of what they've learned over the years. Revelator is a serious enterprise by all involved, not a grand compromise for commerciality's sake, and it shows in ways large and small.
Recorded at Trucks and Tedeschi's home studio in Florida, the music has just enough polish to catch the ear with nuances such as the rhythm guitar part entwined with slide lines on the gorgeous ballad of Mattison's "Midnight in Harlem," or the way bassist Oteil Burbridge percolates throughout the sultry "Until You Remember" without even calling attention to itself. Sequenced with an expert sense of pacing"Learn How to Love"'s nasty riff contrasting neatly with the deliberate gait of "Easy Way Out"none of the dozen tracks here sound busy. And on "These Walls," Tedeschi's vocals approach the subtlety of Trucks' guitar work, even as the sounds of the bottleneck meshes with Alam Khan's sarod.
Devoted fans of Trucks and Tedeschi will find plenty familiar in Revelator, most of it nonetheless set in new and different context. Not the least of the surprises are songwriting alliances with the likes of Oliver Wood, The Jayhawks' Gary Louris and Soulive's Eric Krasno, the result of which combines with such an air of spontaneity on "Love Has Something Else to Say" that it sounds like it rises straight from this great band jamming for the pure pleasure of playing together.
Revelator follows in the grand tradition of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Michael Bloomfield's Electric Flag and Al Kooper's (original) Blood Sweat & Tears, as a magnificent fusion of pop, blues, soul and jazz.
Track Listing: Tracks: Come See About Me; Don't Let Me Slide; Midnight In Harlem; Bound For Glory; Simple Things; Until You Remember; Ball And Chain; These Walls; Learn How To Love; Shrimp And Grits (Interlude); Love Has Something Else To Say; Shelter.
Personnel: Susan Tedeschi: guitar, vocals; Derek Trucks: guitar; Kofi Burbridge: keyboards,flute; Oteil Burbridge:bass; Tyler Greenwell:drums, percussion; J.J. Johnson: drums,percussion; Mike Mattison: background vocals; Mark Rivers: background vocals; Ryan Shaw: background vocals; David Ryan Harris: background vocals; Kebbi Williams: saxophone; Saunders Sermons: trombone; Maurice Brown: trumpet; Alam Kham: sarod; Aeric Krasno: acoustic guitar.
Record Label: Sony Masterworks