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Tedeschi Trucks Band – Live from the Fox Oakland

March 28, 2017

This “big band” (12 pieces) has been cooking for a while now.   They are tight, yet spontaneous. The first Tedeschi Trucks Band (TTB) album (2011’s Revelator) was special.  Every subsequent release, whether studio or live, has moved the concept forward and upwards.  This is blues rock, but the improvisation and horns gives it a jazz feel. Derek Trucks’ guitar has never sounded better, Susan Tedeschi’s vocals are Janis Joplin level brilliant and the band is an entity on its own.  The beauty of this album is that it shreds, rocks and swings.  It has to be damn expensive to tour with 12 top-notch musicians – so the fact that this well oiled big band even exists and tours is pretty special too.  I have listened to all he TTB albums and this feels like a capstone on their career (hopefully not – they should have a lot more gas in the tank to spit out a few more masterpieces).  Of course, the main event is Derek Trucks’ guitar.  I love his solos, but I love his tone even more – it is like chewing a good caramel.

The recording captures one night’s show from their last tour.   The set includes covers (Leonard Cohen, The Beatles, Derek and the Dominoes, Bobby Blue Bland, Sleepy John Estes, Miles Davis and a dash of Santana) and a batch of TTB originals (mostly from last year’s Let Me Get By).  The deluxe CD edition includes a DVD/Blu-Ray film of that show.

Disk One

The album opens with “Don’t Know What It Means” from the TTB’s 2016’s Let Me Get By.  If you are not familiar with the band, this is a pretty good calling card: hot guitars, Earth Wind & Fire quality horns, Susan’s bluesy vocals, great harmonies, soulful keys and a boiling rhythm section as the foundation (gotta love a band with two drummers). The song ends with a scorching sax solo.

The band immediately rolls into the Derek and the Dominoes classic “Keep On Growing.” A perfect song for this SkyDog inspired band.

Next is a gospel inspired version of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On The Wire.”  My introduction to Cohen was Jennifer Warnes 1987 album Famous Blue Raincoat.  “Bird On The Wire” was a highlight of that album and it is a highlight of this album.

The brilliant covers keep coming with George Harrison’s “With You, Without You.”  Trucks shows off his sitar inspired slide work.

“Just As Strange” is from Let Me Get By.  The song opens with Trucks’ thick slide.   The song has a nice repetitive groove that allows you to focus on Derek’s guitar and Susan’s vocals.

“Crying Over You” is from Let Me Get By. It features TTB other lead vocalist: Mike Mattison and the horn section.  Mattison is a Minneapolis native (my home town) and Harvard grad (not many guys in a rock band can claim that). Mattison has a nice soulful sandpaper voice.

“These Walls” is from the TTB debut Revelator.  This version features Alam Kahn (son of the legendary sarode maestro Ali Akbar Khan) on sarode .  The sarode and the slide guitar are twins from different mothers.

“Anyhow” is from Let Me Get By.  It is a great piece to show off the magnificence of Susan Tedeschi’s voice.  The horns really rip on this number. Great vocal harmonies too.  And just when you think it is all over, Trucks unleashes a ginormous solo.

Disk Two 

“Right On Time” is from Let Me Get By. It is the most unusual song on the album.  It has a theatrical Tin Pan Alley feel.  Mike Mattison takes a prominent role on the song with a deep bass voice. He beautifully weaves his voice with Tedeschi’s.

“Leavin’ Trunk”  is Sleepy John Estes song popularized by Taj Mahal and features TTB’s  Mike Mattison on vocals.  The song has a nice Zeppelin vibe to it.

“Don’t Drift Away”  is from Made Up Mind.  This is about as close to a pop song as TTB gets.

“I Want More (Soul Sacrifice Outro)” is from Let Me Get By.  It is pure joy and it features the band at full power. Play it LOUD! It slows down and there is an amazing dialogue between Trucks’ guitar and Kofi Burbridge’s flute. As a bonus the song morphs into a Santana tune to close out this fourteen minute jam.

“I Pity The Fool” is a Bobby Bland song that was also covered on Let Me Get By.  The song is a great vessel for Susan to let her vocals shred. Pure Beale Street blues. Susan testifies.

The most blatantly jazz song on the album is naturally a cover of a Miles Davis song.  “Ali” first appeared on the The Complete Jack Johnson Sessions – a bit of an obscurity. The band plays with the riff and naturally the trumpeter gets to work it over good (along with the required drums solo).

That drum solo morphs into “Let Me Get By” the titular song from Let Me Get By. This is the grand finale, that like the opening number, highlights everything that is great about this band. If you happened to miss the band’s secret weapon over the course of this fine set – keyboardist Kofi Burbridge – you won’t miss him on this finale.

The film that accompanies the deluxe CD is well done.  Most of the same songs as the CDs.  For completeist there are songs on the CDs that are not in the film and songs in the film that are not on the CDs.  The film is crystal clear (I have the Blu-Ray which I assume is cleaner than the DVD), great lighting,  great close-ups and it sounds great.  Every few songs there are some narrative transitions – some based on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast interview Trucks.  I hope it is not BS, but the band seems like a team that gets a long. It is definitely worth the extra few bucks to get the deluxe version with the film.

This band has matured to a very nice place.  I liked their last studio album Let Me Get By, but this album, which features many of the songs from that album, puts that album in an even more positive light. This is like watching a very good sports team – a perennial favorite – having that championship year.  One final note: I love the live mix – just enough crowd noise to feel the heat of the room.


From → Music Reviews

  1. This will have me rushing for The Complete Jack Johnson to hear that track!

  2. Yeah this sounds like a winner. I’ve caught glimpses of this line up and it does “cook”. Too much good music coming at CB. I’m only able to take in so much at a time. (Side note. Ryan Adams is scheduled on Austin City’ this weekend on my PBS channel. It’s repeat but worth it.)

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