Ever wonder what the Grateful Dead would sound like if they scrapped the vocals and got mean and aggressive? Are you a progressive rock or fusion lover who likes some of the Dead's music, but for the most part found them a bit too laid back? Well thankfully this wonderful ensemble Jazz is Dead are here to answer all your prayers. Comprised of Dixie Dregs members T Lavitz on keyboards and Rod Morgenstein on drums, plus hotshot guitarist Jimmy Herring (Aquarium Rescue Unit, Allman Brothers Band) and fusion legend Alphonso Johnson on bass, this band cooks on all cylinders and delivers a sonic feast of scorching progressive fusion within the confines of seven Grateful Dead classics.
Let's face it, the Dead were hot, but these guys are so tight and bursting with energy that the results are mind boggling. Seeing as the band has been gigging for a few years now (this is their third release), the synergy they demonstrate is almost beyond comprehension. Classic tunes like "China Cat Sunflower" and "Morning Dew" are dripping with fusion fire, and contain blazing duels between the mercurial guitar onslaughts of Herring and the raging organ from Lavitz. Herring proves to be one of the most underrated guitarists around, as his Steve Morse/Eric Johnson/Dickey Betts styled leads rampage like an evil demon on the red-hot "Blues for Allah", and his sweet, lyrical tone shines all over the fifteen minute "Estimated Prophet." In fact, this CD is literally filled with epic tracks, including "Terrapin Station", where the whole band gets to lock in and really shine. For a CD's worth of technical ability, raw emotion, and tight grooves, Great Sky River exhausts all the possibilities, and then some.
I really can't imagine any serious music lover not being totally blown away by this, and I most certainly am. Those who have heard the bands first two CD's will be surprised at the heavier, more aggressive nature of this release, but it really works with the songs they have chosen to cover. The biggest surprise though is the absolute chilling playing of Jimmy Herring, who shows his technical speed demon side as well as his tasty,melodic edge. Without a doubt, this CD is living proof of his superior talents, and it's as if this was the band he was destined to play with. Give this a try, and be amazed at how much fun "dead" can be.