"If you tell the Truth, you don't have to remember anything"
-Mark Twain
"You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." -Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, December 16, 2013

I Look And See Eternity Endless Rolling Skies

Today is the anniversary of the final time Branford Marsalis sat in with the Grateful Dead, which was in 1994. The truly amazing thing is that there is a hint of nostalgia in the show and specifically the beautiful "Eyes of the World," which Branford made a song of his own on 3/29/90. This version was of course later immortalized on the live Grateful Dead release "Without a Net." Download the Audience version HERE.
The first set has a couple of great versions of songs but the surprise of the show might be buried in a song that goes back to 1966 in "Minglewood." The energetic blues number stretches out to be close to ten minutes long. Everyone takes a solo in this version and Branford really smashes it, which really eggs on the rest of the band to stretch it like a piece of taffy. The solemn "So Many Roads" works well after "Minglewood," as Jerry goes for it at the end. It's very similar to the excellent version that was chosen for this years 30 Days Of The Dead, which came from the Boston Garden on 10/1/94. I love the eery rift that Bobby started with the delay, it's like it's roping you into the abysses. Similar to the triumphant "Minglewood," this "Eternity" breaths a life and essences which is holier then most. Bobby describes writing the song with legendary blues man Willie Dixon and not really liking how it came out but after doing some test runs the song clicked with him and I experienced the same hate/love relationship with this song. The dark spacey Ora of the song grasp me and of all the versions, this is the best. Branford and Jerry fiddle the gaping space in the song to the limit of its "endless rolling skies."
 From my 10/17/94 blog, I called that "Eyes" the best one since the Branford show and this one is a rekindling of that magic show from Spring '90. Similar to the Garden '94, this "Eyes" builds from to some faint tuning into magnificent twenty plus minutes of beauty. As the song wines down we hear Vince call for "Samba." The Dead used two channel microphones which with the pressing of a pedal could direct their voices only through the monitors, Phil still uses this with PLF and frequently calls out key changes. Vince must have missed the pedal as he pleads for "Samba please." The band then drops into a massive "Estimated," which Jerry and Branford trade licks as they explore the song. Before leaving stage for "Drums," they play a slow thick "He's Gone."
As always "Space" is when the band lets down their hair but this one is particularly pleasant because of the inter-winding of Branford and Jerry. A powerful "Other One," rolls into a truly glorious "Wharf Rat." It's really spectacular to listen to the fills that Branford spices up this mellow song with as the band clearly lift us up to "fly away." Bobby changes up horn players dream closer "Lovelight," as he opts for a raucous "Good Lovin'." Bare able to contain himself yet again Phil gushes about the evening's special guest before the most fitting encore for these graduates of the Acid Trips, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."
I: Bucket, Cold Rain, Minglewood, So Many Roads, Childhood's End, Eternity, Don't Ease
II: Eyes, Samba, Estimated, He's Gone, Drums, Space, Other, Wharf Rat, Good Lovin', E: LSD
With Branford Marsalis except the Encore

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