Derek Trucks steps out of the shadows of the Allman Brothers Band with the smooth grace of one of his snaky slide-guitar solos.
One-half of the Allmans' twin-guitar lineup along with Warren Haynes, Trucks doesn't accept the limitations that come with fueling the Allmans' iconic sound on his sixth solo release. Like Haynes, who has myriad other musical interests, Trucks invests himself fully in his solo work.
"Songlines" is jazzier than the Allmans, with more open spaces in the arrangements. Trucks is this band's only guitarist, and his work flows with an economy that's subtle and often beautiful.
The disc's centerpiece is the nine-minute "Sahib Terie Bandi/Maki Madni," which uses a droning Middle Eastern arrangement to set off Trucks' controlled fury. It's a hypnotic piece that rivals the work of Santana and other guitar legends.
There are times on "Songlines" when you miss the rhythmic punch of the Allmans or Haynes' gritty counterpoint, but Trucks and his crew are an able jam band, and the disc is a satisfying side dish while you wait for the main entree.
A mix of expansive soundscapes, luxurious instrumentals, and sometimes low-key ambience, Gilmour's third solo disc doesn't sound radically different from his work in Pink Floyd - in no small part due to his individual guitar style and immediately recognizable vocals. There's a reflective element, too; a warmth in the arrangement of the title track aided by the voices of David Crosby and Graham Nash (plus a standout Gilmour guitar solo), and a languid mood to "A Pocketful of Stones." "On An Island" is a personal musical statement, of course, but redolent with Floyd-ian echoes.
- ROD LOCKWOOD
It's no surprise that this was the first gospel disc ever to debut at No. 1 on the country album chart. The songs are familiar, of course, but it's Jackson's smooth, comforting, rich voice that brings them home so beautifully. The 15 classic hymns here have rarely been done so well, using sparse instrumental work and occasional background singers to accompany a gorgeous voice. The emphasis remains on the lyrics which, after all, is what fine gospel songs deserve. A notable highlight is "Are You Washed In The Blood?/I'll Fly Away."
- KEN ROSENBAUM
At 22, Christian Scott has more creativity, poise, and style than many veteran jazz artists. He's a risk-taker, a trumpeter with an unconventional, earthy tone who lives, breathes, and feels his music, developing his own compelling trumpet voice. He shows a remarkable gift for understanding the subtle rhythms of a jazz sextet, and when to hold back and when to let go. This is a sultry and sensitive disc with nine originals and two covers, including one of the Miles Davis classic, "So What."
- TOM HENRY