Friday, January 6, 2017
JGB & JB: The Weekend Mix
For a very brief period in 1976, New Orleans piano wizard and genius James Booker, played with the Jerry Garcia Band. I will leave it to the fine people over at "Lost Live Dead" to take it from here.
The problem with Booker and the Garcia Band, ironically enough, is that Booker simply dominates the sound. Booker's left hand is so powerful that there is hardly room for Kahn, and his right hand is golden, so Garcia has a difficult time finding space to play. Booker had probably been playing by himself for so long that he had stopped leaving room for other musicians, but it's very rare that a piano player can simply step all over both Jerry Garcia and John Kahn. Now, granted, the music is very ragged, but the sound simply comes pouring out of Booker's piano. Booker plays fine organ, too, although in a style very far from Merl Saunders. On organ, Booker sounds like Art Neville of the Funky Meters. This isn't surprising, since Booker had ghosted for Neville on many of his early 60s singles while Art was on the road.
As many of you might have gleaned from being long time readers, I am a James Booker disciple, and over the years, I've grown from not quite understanding the phenomenon known as the Grateful Dead, to becoming a real fan.
I have had this recording of the JGB with Booker for years. It was recorded at Sophie's in Palo Alto, California on January 9, 1976. It isn't particularly rare, but I have always been fascinated by the music, especially how this set of music could just as easily be labelled James Booker featuring Jerry Garcia, as both take the lead on vocals and material from both is performed.
Booker's skills on the piano can leave the most cynical music fan in awe. He can take something as basic as "Goodnight Irene" or "Let It Rock" and turn them both into once in a lifetime performances. That was James Booker. The performances here are under rehearsed, but that doesn't always work against the music. I was in the mood for this set, so I thought I'd share.
All By Myself
Right Back Together
Please Send Me Someone To Love
It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
Tore Up Over You
United Our Thing Will Stand
Please Come Home
Let It Rock