This week's Notes from the Jazz Underground is based on the playlist from the August 4th broadcast.
That means it fell right in the middle of The Days Between aka Jerry Week aka The Eight Day Week, and that's an excuse for NFTJU host Paul Abella to dive headlong into the music of the Big Man. Certainly his takes on the Jerry / Jazz continuum are no strangers to these pages, having wrote probably the definitive piece on the Dead's Jazz collaborations as well as an excellent preview of the Jazz & Colors event at The Field Musuem during Fare Thee Well. Paul even leads his own jazz-based Dead tribute band (but more on that in a bit).
This week's playlist comes hard charging out of the gate with the crooked funk of "Morning In Marin" off of Jerry's collaboration with keyboardist Howard Wales, Hooteroll?. This yields to a more "traditional" Jerry jam with longtime collaborator Merl Saunders, on his namesake tune from the famed Keystone Sessions.
Then, we get a famous NFTJU "left turn", going local for sax player Pat Mallinger's gentle take on "China Doll", coupled with Fog's pianojazz version of "Brokedown Palace"
Acoustic Jerry makes its appearance on another namesake tune, "Grateful Dawg" from the late period Garcia / Grisman collaboration. The mandolin (and sultry vocals) will take center stage again on the playlist closing version of "New Speedway Boogie" by catherine Russell.
Garcia makes a cameo on a proper jazz album, Ornette Coleman's "3 Wishes" from the 1988 Virgin Beauty LP.
I often forget how fierce Jimmy Herring can be on "Unbroken Chain" from Jazz Is Dead (which might more accurately be called Fusion Is Dead but c'est la vie).
Then we reach a long set of Grateful Dead proper, with special guest jazz saxophonist David Murray. Despite this being a '93 show from Madison Square Garden, there's plenty to like when the boys get challenged by a musician outside of their idiom (oh, that "Estimated Prophet"!).
The show's penultimate track features Paul himself, leading his Jazz / Dead hybrid of a band with a highly utiliitarianan name: Jazz Plays Dead. They transport Garcia's "Loser" from the backrooms of Abilene to a New Orleans nightclub at 3 a.m., but what really comes through when the song is repurposed like this is just how beautiful this melody is, no matter what the idiom.
We miss you, Jerry Garcia.
NFTJU airs Friday nights at 10pm on WDCB 90.0 FM in the Chicago area.
|Morning in Marin||Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales||Hooteroll|
|Merl's Tune||Jerry Garcia & Merl Sanders||Live at the Keystone, volume 1|
|China Doll||Pat Mallinger Quartet||Moorean Moon|
|Brokedown Palace||Fog||The Tri Sessions, volume 1|
|Grateful Dawg||Jerry Garcia & David Grisman||Jerry Garcia/David Grisman|
|3 Wishes||Ornette Coleman & Jerry Garcia||Virgin Beauty|
|Unbroken Chain||Jazz is Dead||Blue Light Rain|
|Estimated Prophet (w/David Murray)||Grateful Dead||9/22/1993|
|Dark Star (w/David Murray)||Grateful Dead||9/22/1993|
|Space (w/David Murray)||Grateful Dead||9/22/1993|
|Loser||Jazz Plays Dead||Demo Session 7/09/2015|
|New Speedway Boogie||Catherine Russell||Cat|