Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

663

Jimmy Herring: Jimmy Herring: Lifeboat

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
It is his imagination as much as his technique which makes him such a formidable musician.
Jimmy Herring
Lifeboat
Abstract Logix
2008

Jimmy Herring is widely considered to be one of the greatest electric guitarists in the world. Long years lighting up the music of the Aquarium Rescue Unit, Jazz is Dead, Project Z and—in recent years—the Dead, Phil Lesh and Friends, and Widespread Panic have established his reputation as a guitarist with very few peers. Lifeboat, his first solo release, has plenty of electrifying playing from the man from North Carolina to be sure, but it is above all a showcase of his songwriting talents. Wisely perhaps, Herring has surrounded himself with old collaborators of many years standing—the rhythm section of Oteil Burbridge on bass and Jeff Sipe on drums has played with Herring on and off for two decades—and this brings a real group dynamic to the playing.

Herring exhibits the same seamless blend of jazz and blues-rock in his runs that characterises the playing of guitarists Jeff Beck or Jan Akkerman. The couple of pacy guitar solos which punctuate the opener, "Scapegoat Blues," are a case in point; it's a lively number, but if you thought this record was going to be a jam-based, million-miles-an-hour blow-out you'd be wrong. The most satisfying thing about Lifeboat lies in the strength of the compositions, the diversity of music and the emphasis on melody. As impressive as Herring's playing is, the saxophone of guest Greg Osby and the flute of Kofi Burbridge color the music almost as much as Herring's six strings.

The lovely guitar-led melody of "Only When It's Light" is enhanced by Burbridge's flute harmonizing. Herring takes a solo which stirs memories of Frank Zappa's more melodic guitar playing, and Burbridge's light and sweet flute intervention adds lustre to the tune. When not on piano, Burbridge's flute playing is a delight on this album, illuminating a number of songs with his warm, full-bodied organic sound and confident attack.

There's an Indian vibe to the slower "New Moon," courtesy of guest Derek Trucks' shimmering slide-guitar. His lines alternate with Herring's and the two dovetail nicely. Truck's slide also features to great effect on "Lifeboat Serenade," whose opening chords and melody sound a little like one of Pink Floyd founder member and singer/songwriter Syd Barrett's numbers. After Herring and Trucks trade tasty solos, Herring turns it up a notch and closes the number with a belting tour-de-force solo which underlines the fact that it his imagination as much as his technique which makes him such a formidable musician. If there is a poll somewhere for best guitar solo of the year then this would be a strong contender—see if you don't find yourself turning up the volume as the song and the solo teasingly fade all too soon.

A funk dynamic infuses "One Strut," in part thanks to electronic keyboards reminiscent of 1970s Stevie Wonder, and Herring peels off yet another totally absorbing solo. There is, however, a lot more to the music than soloing. The pace relents on the fascinating "Jungle Book Overture," originally composed by George Bruns, the jazz aficionado and trombonist who played in trombonist Jack Teagarden's band in the 1930s before becoming Walt Disney's main composer. A tango-ish vibe inhabits the piece as flute and guitar trace the melody together. Greg Osby contributes a delicate, inventive soprano solo which has a reedy clarinet feel to it. Burbridge's flute tantalizingly picks up from Osby, and Herring, in turn, once again shines. The same three-man front-line intertwine beautifully on "Lost," by the eternally inspirational saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

The album closes with the lively jazz number "Splash," which features unison playing and is dominated by a horn-like solo from Herring and notable statements by Burbridge on flute and Osby on alto sax. Perhaps "Gray Day" would have made a better closing remark. This number shows a more reflective side of Herring and carries his most extended workout on the album—his bewitching playing, whether intended or not, sounds like a heartfelt tribute to the Grateful Dead's guitarist Jerry Garcia.

It's been a while coming, but Jimmy Herring's solo debut is a major achievement and will no doubt ride high in quite a number of best-of-2008 lists in jazz, rock, fusion and guitar periodicals alike. Let's hope Lifeboat is just the beginning of a long solo discography.




Tracks: Scapegoat Blues; Only When It's Light; New Moon; Lifeboat Serenade; One Strut; Jungle Book Overture; Lost; Transient; Gray Day; Splash.

Personnel: Jimmy Herring: guitars; Oteil Burbridge: bass; Jeff Sipe: drums; Kofi Burbridge: piano (2 - 10), flute, (2, 6, 7, 10); Greg Osby: soprano sax (6, 9), alto sax (7 - 10); Matt Slocum: keyboards (1), piano (3), electric piano (4), clavinet (5); Bobby Lee Rodgers: rhythm guitar (1), Leslie guitar (5); Scott Kinsey: organ (2); Derek Trucks: slide guitar (3, 4); Tyler Greenwell: drums (4); Ike Stubblefield: organ (4).


Track Listing: Scapegoat Blues; Only When It's Light; New Moon; Lifeboat Serenade; One Strut; Jungle Book Overture; Lost; Transients; Gray Day; Splash.

Personnel: Jimmy Herring: guitars; Oteil Burbridge: bass; Jeff Sipe (1-3, 5-10): drums; Matt Slocum: keyboards (1), piano (3), electric piano (4), clavinet (5); Bobby Lee Rodgers: rhythm guitar (1), Leslie guitar (5); Kofi Burbridge: piano (2, 6-10), flute (2, 6, 7, 10); Scott Kinsey: organ (2); Derek Truck: slide guitar (3, 4); Tyler Greenwell: drums (4); Ike Stubblefield: organ (4); Greg Osby: soprano saxophone (6, 9), alto saxophone (7-10).

Title: Jimmy Herring: Lifeboat | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Abstract Logix


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: December 9, 2017
Read Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 Extended Analysis Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Love, Gloom, Cash, Love Extended Analysis Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read "Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial" Extended Analysis Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981" Extended Analysis Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" Extended Analysis Strange Days - 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows" Extended Analysis Alex Cline's Flower Garland Orchestra: Oceans of Vows
by John Kelman
Published: March 23, 2017
Read "Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)" Extended Analysis Chicago II (Steven Wilson Remix)
by John Kelman
Published: February 12, 2017
Read "Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!" Extended Analysis Allan Holdsworth: The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever!
by John Kelman
Published: April 17, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!