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Jeff Healey Band, The: Live at Montreux 1999 (DVD/CD)

Back in 1995, I had the privilege of interviewing Jeff Healey and then later watching him perform at Milwaukee's famed Summerfest. Mild-mannered and soft-spoken in person, the Canadian guitarist who has been blind since infancy transformed himself into one of the hottest players I've ever seen - calmly sitting in a chair one minute and then stomping around the stage the next, his guitar facing up and his head grooving skyward, lost in his own distinct blend of deep, dusty and classic blues rock.

Healey, his hair much shorter than it was in 1995, put on a similar show four years later at Switzerland's famed Montreux Jazz Festival, which was recorded and is now finally released as part of Eagle Rock Entertainment's ongoing "Live at Montreux" series. Even though the title of this companion DVD and CD (each sold separately) is misleading - four songs from the DVD and two from the CD were actually recorded during Healey's 1997 Montreux appearance - this set brilliantly captures the essence of that 1999 gig. The camera lingers on Healey's unorthodox playing style that employs all four left-hand fingers plus his thumb on the fretboard of his humbucker-equipped Stratocaster, which is either positioned face up on his lap, resting face up on an adjacent stand or attached face up to a strap. The method appears upside-down to conventional players but allows Healey to coax distinct tones from the instrument. Backed by a trio containing at least two players who've been with him for years, Healey and band are consummate professionals - even if the performance relies a bit too much on what they had been doing so solidly for the past decade. The 10-song set includes hits like "Angel Eyes" and "I Think I Love You Too Much," plus such well chosen covers as The Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" (on which Healey busts a string after a particularly scorching solo and launches into an impromptu and witty call-and-response routine with the audience). The four songs from the 1997 gig, including the melodic original "That's What They Say" and a mournfully searing version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," are tagged on as bonus material.

The CD version of Live at Montreux 1999 inexplicably contains a slightly different track listing than the DVD but allows listeners to focus solely on Healey's music - not on his captivating playing style. The DVD is still the better bet, simply because it offers the opportunity to witness Healey's onstage prowess. Following this performance, the Jeff Healey Band released Get Me Some in 2000. Healey then teamed with other musicians to record Adventures in Jazzland, a sonic exploration of traditional American jazz from the 1920s and 1930s, on which he plays the trumpet.

DVD Track Listing:
1) My Little Girl
2) Stop Breakin' Down
3) Third Degree
4) I Think I Love You Too Much
5) Stuck in the Middle
6) I Can't Get My Hand On You
7) Angel Eyes
8) Roadhouse Blues
9) See the Light
10) Hoochie Coochie Man
Bonus Material:
11) As the Years Go Passing By
12) That's What They Say
13) Shoe On the Other Foot
14) While My Guitar Gently Weeps

CD Track Listing:
1) While My Guitar Gently Weeps
2) My Little Girl
3) Stop Breakin' Down
4) Third Degree
5) I Think I Love You Too Much
6) That's What They Say
7) I Can't Get My Hands On You
8) Yer Blues
9) Angel Eyes
10) Roadhouse Blues
11) See the Light
12) Hoochie Coochie Man

Added: July 1st 2005
Reviewer: Michael Popke
Related Link: Official Jeff Healey Band Web Site
Hits: 4454
Language: english

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