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Whose Hat is This?: Everything's OK

Doug Collette By

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On Everything's OK, the core of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, plus vocalist Kokayi, present a live rendition of a spontaneous collaboration captured in December 2017. Free-form in both concept and execution, the group offers a the sophomore album for those who like their sounds as liberated as they are liberating. As such, it may well serve as a gateway for music lovers not otherwise inclined toward free jazz but will definitely deliver a balm to those who are.

Nevertheless, this record may not be for the faint of heart of fans of the blues-soul ensemble of which drummers JJ Johnson, and Tyler Greenwell, bassist Tim Lefebvre and saxophonist Kebbi Williams are linchpins. Whatever discernible shape arises here only coalesces slowly, during tracks like "Zeroes & 1s" and it isn't always around the chants, scats, raps and toasts of their newly-recruited frontman as on "Jon Holmes." Lefebvre solidified the TTB upon his enlistment in 2014, further galvanizing a rhythm section in which Greenwell and Johnson had been the foundation since the group's inception, as was saxophonist and featured soloist Williams. Now, in followup to the serendipity of their previous independently produced record of 2017, the commanding presence of Kokayi, a Grammy-nominated artist, producer and educator, crystallizes the initial inspiration.

As with most music, live or studio, play-by-plays are the definition of pointless and in the free-form context of Everything's OK all the more so. Better to concentrate on the individual and collective efforts within the group on stage as the fivesome search for and pursue threads of melody and/or rhythm to pursue, then sew together what they discover in some some semblance of structure, as on "The Quietest Note Ever Played" or "Bring In the Gimp."

Nevertheless, the listener ought to be prepared for (but make no mistake, welcome), the inevitable ambient sonics the group generates in their quest(s) such as "Pre_Dug Holes, Step in Here Lightly." It helps to discern what's happening by surrendering to the sound rather than constantly attempt to make sense of it: the feeling of being carried away in something of a zen-like capitulation to the motion both mental and physical aids in connecting with what the band's doing.

Needless to say, as with a mere glance rather than a close inspection of the black and white cover art, a one-time listen, either at total attention or with the album in the background, can only yield so much discovery, so repeated playing pays its dividends. In fact, doing so under a variety of circumstances, from headphones to the soundtrack to another activity, offers even greater revelations than might otherwise proceed from eschewing its hearing from different angles, so to speak. Like the musicians themselves, engineers Mike Peloquin (recording), Geoff Stanfield (mixing) and Ed Brooks (mastering) all allowed the music to breathe at their various points of reference in this process.

No doubt equal parts stunned and moved at the outset, this audience at The 8x10 in Baltimore, MD. probably remained so for the duration of this performance. Certainly it sounds that way as the band concludes and bids adieu, but there's probably little chance the sensation(s) the quintet implanted dissipated at any point to quickly in its aftermath: the way WHIT play, the group is too deeply engaged not to leave a lasting impression on those who hear them, even if at first, what the group does is a bit difficult to grasp.

Track Listing: Chomp-Chomp-Chomp/Love!; Pre-Dug Holes/Step In Here Lightly; Jon Homes; X’s For Eyes; Run; Zeroes and Ones; Side of the Ditch; Bring in the Gimp; Release the Cracklins; Tub-A-Love; We Make Free Jazz Great Again; If I Had to Decide Between the Pork and You…; The Quietest Note Ever Played; Microphone Check Intro; Kebbi Played a Note; Well Alright, Playboy; Down.

Personnel: Kokayi: vocals; Kebbi Williams: saxophone, flute; Tim Lefebvre: bass, sounds; Tyler "Falcon" Greenwell: drums, percussion; J.J. Johnson: drums.

Title: Everything's OK | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Ropeadope

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