The Derek Trucks Band Reviewed

The Derek Trucks Band Reviewed

The Derek Trucks Band

Soul Serenade (Columbia) After flunking a recent magazine "blindfold test," Derek Trucks admitted he doesn't listen to other guitarists much. The nephew of Allman Brothers percussive engine Butch Trucks, as well as the band's slide guitar phenom, Derek's too busy exploring other facets of the musical spectrum. Since his overlooked debut in 1997, when he turned heads by covering Miles Davis and John Coltrane, Trucks has all but shattered the narrowcasting of his remarkable abilities. Although recorded previously, Trucks' Soul Serenade follows in the wake of last year's critically acclaimed Joyful Noise and serves up an album that exudes the loose feel and freewheeling spirit of jazz with the unmistakable sound of Southern rock & roll. The brilliant coupling of King Curtis' "Soul Serenade" and Bob Marley's "Rastaman Chant" sets the earthy tone of the album's flowing progression. Buddy Montgomery's obscure, soulful gem "Bock to Bock" gets a flat-out jazz resurrection with Derek Trucks faithfully channeling brother Wes. The guitarist's original "Elvin," a salute to Coltrane's legendary drummer Elvin Jones, fits in seamlessly with Mongo Santamaria's Afro-Cuban evergreen "Afro Blue" and Wayne Shorter's plaintive "Oriental Folk Song." Amid these instrumentals, the set is nicely grounded by the only vocal, the mournful standard "Drown in My Own Tears," with Gregg Allman showing why he's arguably the best white blues singer around. For closers, Derek tags on a short instrumental he plays on sarod. Top that. With Soul Serenade, no one's going to accuse Derek Trucks of being nearsighted, let alone blind.

***.5

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