"You just found another killer review!"            


Jazz Is Dead, Laughing Water (CD, 62:46); Zebra 63301 44019-2, 1999
Zebra Records
P.O. Box 9178
Calabasas, CA 91372
Phone: 800-323-2294 ext. 317 (Rob Evanoff)
E-mail: revanoff@zebradisc.com
Cyberhome: www.zebradisc.com

        Essentially a Grateful Dead repertory ensemble, Jazz Is Dead boasts a 
fusion dream lineup: T. Lavitz on keyboards, Alphonso Johnson on 
bass, Rod Morgenstein (or Jeff Sipe) on drums, and rising star Jimmy 
Herring on guitar. If you like the Grateful Dead and know their 
songs, you'll probably warm to this disc. If you don't, you might 
still find it rewarding. The musicianship is top-notch and the 
recording sounds sharp (it was taken from live shows in Colorado and 
California). I don't know what it has to do with "jazz," but that's 
another discussion.
	The Dead wrote some brilliant songs, displayed an admirable 
creative evolution (up to a point), and were in a class by themselves 
when it came to playing live (up to a point). But the quasi-religious 
devotion of many of their fans was (and is) hard to take. And the 
countless present-day attempts to cash in on the band's legacy seem 
more about marketing than music.
Viewed in this context, Jazz Is Dead's efforts are a little harder to 
take seriously. I can understand why a group of fusioners would 
follow this course: unlike most fusion, reworked Grateful Dead 
material is virtually guaranteed a fairly sizable audience. Reach out 
to the Grateful Dead fan base, broadly defined, and the rest takes 
care of itself. The marketing is built into the musical concept 
itself. I'm glad the band members will have food on their tables, but 
let's face it: it's an artistic cop-out.
	Some of this stuff sounds great, though. I wish the Dead had 
played it as well as these guys do. Hearing Lavitz and company tackle 
these songs, one discovers anew some of the Dead's musical virtues. 
Take a listen to the odd phrasing and melodic lilt of "Row Jimmy," 
particularly in the verse; or the harmonic richness of "Stella Blue," 
one of the Dead's best songs. Guitarist Herring is a hot soloist 
throughout. Lavitz is also impressive, mining all the harmonic 
possibilities of the songs. Johnson shines on "Eyes of the World" and 
Morgenstein lets loose on the final track, "Let it Grow."
	But after this group has managed to cover every Grateful Dead 
tune, what then? Will they keep touring until they're well past their 
prime, like some other bands we've known?
~David R. Adler

To purchase this recording and get more info, soundclips, etc.


OR . . .

Please visit my BUY IT E.E.R. NOW INDEX PAGE
go to my LINKS page and find the vendors' section.
Happy hunting!

Back to MAIN REVIEW list
Back to MEN list
Back to LADIES list
Get outta here and go HOME