Tedeschi Trucks Band Live (Sony Masterworks)
There are a lot of good collaborations featuring two headliners, a fair number of which involve husband-wife teams. But you'd be hard-pressed to find one with as much raw energy, sweet soul, down home rock-infused power, and flat-out guitar fury as the 11-piece ensemble led by the husband-and-wife team of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.
This two-CD disc released Tuesday is a fabulous compilation of 11 live tracks from a year's worth of concerts around the globe, plus a new track called "Nobody's Free." It was released to mark the one-year anniversary of the group's Grammy-winning debut album, "Revelator."
Tedeschi does a Bonnie Raitt-meets-Janis Joplin thing on vocals and Trucks is utterly sick with some of his slide-guitar solos. The set list offers a diverse cross-section of covers and originals, rock, rhythm & blues, and some gospel, with plenty of free-form creativity and a gritty roots texture.
Covers include songs by Bill Withers, Stevie Wonder, Elmore James, Harry Nilsson, and Joe Cocker. Tedeschi and Trucks have been making the rounds lately: They performed at the White House in March with B.B. King and Buddy Guy. Then it was off to the Apollo Theater to join Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and others in an all-star tribute to bluesman Hubert Sumlin, followed by a performance at the United Nations with jazz heavyweights Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis.
Accolades aside, this is one live album that's worthy of being called a powerhouse, a collection that drips with raspy blues while also harkening the era of classic rock.
-- TOM HENRY
Jazz Punks (Foam @ the Mouth Records)
Sick Bebop Chops + Sid Vicious Attitude = Jazz Punks. That's how this album's publicity release begins and, while this Los Angeles-based combo's style is an overstatement in terms of punk attitude, it pulls off a nifty marriage of sorts between bebop chops and modern jazz.
Think of it as a sophisticated garage rock meets fusion hybrid. The songs, which provide a new take on everything from Billy Strayhorn and Dizzy Gillespie to The Clash, are marked by frequent tempo and time signature changes, just enough to keep listeners a bit off-balance. Like any modern jazz, there's a fair amount of experimentation, although what pushes the envelope here is more the abrupt stop-and-turn transitions.
THE DEVIL AIN'T GOT NO MUSIC
Lurrie Bell (Aria B.G. Records)
Like a lot of great Chicago bluesmen, singer-guitarist Lurrie Bell has the Deep South in his bones.
With his acoustic guitar and road-weary vocals, Bell blends the blues with gospel for a disc that has a raw, stripped-down quality and hard-fought preacher sensibility. Highlights include a stirring, gut-bucket solo of the Rev. Gary Davis classic, "Death Don't Have No Mercy," as well as other blues songs by Muddy Waters and others.
But Bell also strums up a hearty gospel-infused message on songs by modern artists Tom Waits and James Taylor.