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Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Vogue Theater

Lloyd N. Peterson Jr. By

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In contrast, Trucks has said that he prefers not to have hits so that they can approach each performance without an expectation of having to play specific songs. Still, Tedeschi Trucks Band ended their set with their wonderful composition, "Midnight In Harlem." It is a tune that is their most popular but also their paradox. This is where Trucks displays what makes him so unique as a guitarist inside the history of the instrument.

There is also a history of spirituality in music that goes back to at least the 11th century (thank you Pat Martino). But, perhaps, the strongest and most creative history comes from India. This isn't necessarily in a religious sense but in an artistic sense, where music is an expression created from the deepest depths of the spiritual soul. In most Western societies, it's an unbelievably difficult place to reach because we have our own culture and life experiences. Almost all of those who do reach it have found a way to eliminate their ego, which can place too much significance on one's own existence in the present, to be able to return to a place that is purer and more free to create from that reality. But it is important to note that each individual who has this ability has a different reality, depending upon their level of spiritual depth.

Think about it. John Coltrane did; so did George Harrison and so, too, does Derek Trucks. I'm not trying to compare anyone; I'm simply trying to describe a place in music that has a rich history that is relatively unknown in our society. Perhaps the most well-known musician from India in the west is Ravi Shankar. He was also George Harrison's teacher and mentor until the day he died. Coltrane would name his son after him; perhaps you know him, Ravi Coltrane.

But it was during Trucks' solo on "Midnight In Harlem" when he most often tried to travel to this realm of existence. Like with many ragas, Trucks started his solo slowly and softly, and you could hear the Indian influences. There was a certain sweetness, similar to a slow awakening of each of the nine human emotions, until his solo erupted into a kind of musical ecstasy. For me, this is one of Trucks' greatest gifts, one he has in common with the late John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi Hendrix sometimes reached spiritual realms with his music, especially when playing with his Band of Gypsys. This was a band that gave him a platform, such as the canvas used by a painter, and it allowed him to open up all of his creative senses on a deeper level and not have to think about everyone's role and interaction. The Jimi Hendrix Experience may have been the more talented band, but it was important to think about each person's role collectively and their part within it. Like Trane, who was able to enter into a spiritual consciousness when the band would lay back, Hendrix could enter into that same realm with Band of Gypsys.

This may not describe exactly from where Trucks sometimes creates, but when the setting is right for him, I think it is close. To better understand this aspect of music, read the great book by Hazrat Inyat Khan, The Mysticism of Sound and Music.

One of the significant musical statements made this night occurred when Trucks and saxophonist, Kebbi Williams traded off one another, reminding me of the chemistry of the great jazz drummer Ed Blackwell and saxophonist Dewey Redman. They were killin' it and, truthfully, I haven't seen a mainstream band in jazz take that much risk since I last saw Ornette Coleman; but then again, there is an argument that can be made with regard to whether Coleman has any mainstream-ness at all and I say that with the deepest respect.

Tedeschi Trucks Band is a group that could play until morning and still not reach the full diversity of creative ideas and knowledge they bring together. Yet, when they are on their game, the music, sound and chemistry from these 11 musicians begins to feel like a spiritual medicine for the soul. The sound and feel becomes warmer and thicker and you begin to feel a sense of joyful beauty reaching out to you; it's then that you begin to get a sense of the creative possibilities and relevance of this band—and just perhaps, a sense of the vast musical power and beauty that came before.

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