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Jazz Is Dead: Laughing Water

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Now that you know the group’s name is an announcement of their respect for the vast collection of Grateful Dead compositions and not a proclaimation of the death of jazz, you are in for more flawless musicianship and wicked jazz-rock fusion. On their second release for Zebra Records, the critically acclaimed jazz-rock fusion quartet Jazz Is Dead interprets the entire 1973 Grateful Dead, WAKE OF THE FLOOD album. LAUGHING WATER, “WAKE OF THE FLOOD REVISITED” features eight tracks filled to the brim with ten songs, including two with vocal intros, two suites and double song tracks!!! This musical masterpiece reveals the stellar guitar work of Jimmy Herring, bassist Alphonso Johnson and T Lavitz doing double duty on keyboards and the Hammond B-3 organ. Former drummer, Billy Cobham is replaced by the double drum ensemble of Rod Morgenstein and Jeff Sipe.

With the basic tracks recorded in April 1999 at the Fox Theater in Boulder, Colorado and at Maritime Hall in San Francisco, California, LAUGHING WATER, “WAKE OF THE FLOOD REVISITED,” also features very special guests from the original, live sessions, including bluegrass fiddler Vassar Clements contributing his “country-flavored” violin strings on “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleoo” and “Sunshine Jam.” Vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux intros two tracks while Steve Kimock plays a bluesy, all-knowing guitar on “Stella Blue.” Derek Trucks, currently with the Allman Brothers, adds a new configuration with his signature slide guitar on “Row Jimmy,” and “Sunshine Jam.”

>From the vocal intro by Donna Jean Godchaux, on through the Garcia/Hunter classics “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” and “Here Comes Sunshine,” Jazz Is Dead expands on the legendary improvs made famous by the Grateful Dead with exalted guitar solos by Jimmy Herring. For nearly nine minutes, the band rocks you through their jazz-tinged, “Sunshine Jam,” revisiting the rhythms and happiness of a time and place adored for its freedom of spirit. Written by Herring, Johnson, Lavitz and Sipe, “Sunshine Jam” is the centerpiece of this free-wheeling jam session. Vassar Clements gives a flawless solo on violin, awakening his instrument’s character and charm to another dimension with bluegrass licks. Herring ignites a solo over the improvs with licks that don’t know the definition of boundaries! On “Eyes of the World,” Herring makes his mark again with signature licks indicative of his ability to play any style of music. The band’s “Weather Report Suite, Parts 1 and 2” is a real show-stopper with T Lavitz on fire at the keyboards and Hammond B-3, and Jimmy Herring jamming with the intensity ala the infamous Scott Henderson of Tribal Tech. Drummers Morgenstein and Sipe boost their rock licks and chops with perfect rhythmic reasoning and timing. Bassist, Alphonso Johnson gives birth to new bass chops hitting each note with strokes of pure genius. The set is more than awesome.Whether you did or didn’t groove to the tunes of the Grateful Dead back in the 70s, you don’t have to be a “Deadhead” to appreciate the jazz-rock fusion launched on LAUGHING WATER, “WAKE OF THE FLOOD REVISITED,” by Jazz Is Dead. They are what’s happening in the 90s. From a concept by Michael Gaiman, Executive Producer Ricky Schultz recognized their potential for excellence and has brought the band to its current rung in the jazz-rock fusion world. It’s showtime folks!


Title: Laughing Water | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Zebra Records

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CD/LP/Track Review
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