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Music Review: The Derek Trucks Band – Roadsongs

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Derek Trucks may be young but he has ascended to the rare stratosphere of the top guitarists in the world. He received his first paycheck at age 11, sat in with Buddy Guy at 12, and formed his own band at 15. At 24 Rolling Stone included him on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time.

Today he continues to record and tour with his own Derek Trucks Band. He has also been a member of the legendary Allman Brothers since 1999 which his uncle, Butch Trucks, helped found. He has also toured in recent years with Eric Clapton as part of his backing band. Somehow in the middle of all this he managed to marry blues singer Susan Tedeschi.

During early April of 2010 he brought the Derek Trucks Band to Chicago for two days of live playing and recording. The result is the two-disc, just under two-hour set, Roadsongs. Derek Trucks has never produced a bad studio album but live his playing takes on new power and produces even more exciting textures. He uses a song as a taking off point for his improvisations and, as such, every performance is different.

This latest live album catches him at his best and is a must for any fan of the blues or the guitar. While it is grounded in the blues, he stretches it out to embrace rock, jazz, and even a little reggae.

It is an album that builds with the first four songs, which find him becoming increasingly involved and the solos growing longer. By the time he reaches “Get What You Deserve” he is at the top of his game as one of the best slide guitarists alive today.

Classics “Anyday,” “Down In The Flood,” and “Key To The Highway” all receive brilliant translations. “Afro Blue,” at well over ten minutes, is a jazz piece in which he plays off a three-piece brass section. The reggae tune, “Rastaman Chant,” is funky and joyous.

Mike Mattison is the lead vocalist here and his gruff vocals are a good match for Trucks’ blues sound. Other group members include bassist Todd Smallie, drummer Yonrico Scott, keyboardist/flutist Kofi Burbridge, and percussionist Count M’Butu. In addition there is the aforementioned brass section, which is made up of Mace Hibbard, Paul Garrett, and Kevin Hyde.

Roadsongs is one of the better live albums to be released during the last several years. It’s that good!

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