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Great Sky River

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Album Review

Jazz Is Dead, one of America's premier jam bands, delivers their breakthrough recording with Great Sky River. Recorded "live" at the IMAC Theater in Huntington, NY, with Jimmy Herring on guitar, Alphonso Johnson on bass, T Lavitz on keyboards, and Rod Morgenstein on drums, the band plays a powerful, high-energy set that features their rock chops in all their jam band glory. Three extended jams — "Estimated Prophet," "St. Stephen/The Eleven," and "Terrapin Station/Dark Star" — form the heart and soul of the show and the band's true calling. Lovers of groove, electronica, and rock guitar pyrotechnics will find themselves ear deep in the guitar wizardry of Jimmy Herring on these jams. Absent is drummer Jeff Sipe, but Rod Morgenstein definitely holds down the rhythm section with an unreal and potent drum solo on "St. Stephen/The Eleven." T Lavitz goes the distance and plays an intense set as does Alphonso Johnson, with his basslines speaking out as much more than an appendage to Lavitz's keyboards or Herring's guitar. Great Sky River exceeds the group's 1999 "live" release, Laughing Water: Wake of the Flood Revisited — which also explored and featured classic Grateful Dead compositions — because the performance was not altered or overdubbed. This CD is truly "live" and a cool 21st century representation of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter's ripe rock repertoire.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Tribute albums became very popular in the 1990s, but the members of Jazz Is Dead sidestepped the accompanying clichés of most tributes with their 1998 Grateful Dead concept CD Blue Light Rain. The four jazz fusion veterans -- bassist Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report), keyboardist T Lavitz (Dixie Dregs), guitarist Jimmy Herring (Aquarium Rescue Unit), and drummer Billy Cobham (Mahavishnu Orchestra) -- performed instrumental versions of Grateful Dead classics, at once showing the influence of jazz...
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Great Sky River, Jazz is Dead
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