With Layla Revisited sets the Tedeschi Trucks Band a monument of captivating musicality to the classic, Yola cemented their position as the spearhead of soul and Jan Lundgren documented on Into the night a high mass of melodic beauty and warmth.
Tedeschi Trucks Band feat. Trey Anastasio – Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN ‘)
A classic like “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” by Derek & The Dominos, a cornerstone of Eric Clapton’s world career, can really only make a difference. Not if you can Tedeschi Trucks Band and apparently knows no limits in terms of playing technique. It is not unusual for blues rock and jam band formations to include covers in their programs; the respectful adaptation of foreign material is common in the genre. However, it is an absolute exception to bring a complete album on stage. But that is exactly what the Tedeschi Trucks Band did for the 50th anniversary of “Layla …” at the LOCKN ‘Festival 2019 and pressed it on 3 LPs.
The result is fantastic. Because while the original, played in the lead by Clapton together with Duane Allman, seems urgent, concise and highly condensed in its expressiveness, the Tedeschi Trucks Band wins the song pearls with jam interludes, inspired guitar dialogues and complex arrangements an almost spiritual breadth and depth. The Tedeschi Trucks Band, usually already on stage with the strength of a football team, will be strengthened on this special evening by Trey Anastasio, head of the legendary jam band Phish, and Doyle Bramhall II as another guitar master. So much for the list of ingredients in this musical five-star menu.
As one might expect from such a top-class troupe, they don’t just play Clapton’s songs. Guitar virtuosos are at work here, all of whom can hold a candle to the master and cannot hold back with their skills in just under 100 minutes. Layla Revisited but is anything but a freak show. This homage is full of sensitivity, a love of improvisation and a prime example of how listening music-making works.
In the first two songs, which open up the wealth of combinations of three main singers, the musicians stay close to the original. But with “Keep On Growing” the dam breaks and jamming becomes virtuoso and inspired. The licks and fills of the guitars interlock as smooth as butter, the solos unfold a musical three-way conversation, relaxed, groovy and yet full of crackling tension. In the quiet passages, the famous band allows themselves to take all the pressure off and tosses each other fragments of motif before the next increase culminates in a furious frenzy of play. Sometimes the interplay, including background vocals and juicy brass sections, reaches an almost ecstatic intensity (“anyday”).
Are there any highlights at such a level? The nine-minute version of “Layla” is definitely one of them, as well as “Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad” with Susan Tedeschi’s crowning soul voice and certainly also “Key To The Highway”. What about the other ten songs? They are hardly less brilliant – and a joy with every new hearing. Because when so many musicians are on stage, there is always something new to discover. Nevertheless, the sheer abundance of details does not make Clapton’s songs seem over-furnished at any point. A feast for the ears.
Tedeschi Trucks Band feat. Trey Anastasio – Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN ‘) listen on Amazon
Yola – Stand For Myself
Yolas meteoric rise almost looks like a fairy tale. Her debut Walk through fire brought the soul voice, who had previously worked as a backround singer (for Massive Attack, among others), four Grammy nominations. For the second album, also created under the wing of Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) Stand For Myself Yola should now tumble against prices. Because the gold voice, born in Bristol as Yolanda Quartey, manages to revive the tradition of the great Souldiven in the twelve songs of her new album and to bring it into the present. Yola is blessed with a dark, voluminous, finely grained exceptional voice, which offers everything between amorous falsetto whispering and creaky power. She traces every fine nuance of the melodious soul and R&B numbers naturally, sensitively and with immense skill.
Yola’s velvety voice is the undisputed center of the reverberant retro sound and effortlessly carries the songs. A crisp, grooving rhythm section with a prancing bass prepares the ground for her, in the background layers of guitars and keys paint mood images. It goes without saying that in ballads like “The Great Divide” strings and glockenspiel are added for the icing. This is classic soul, timelessly beautiful and attractively spruced up for the present with echoes of pop.
Yola probably works Stand For Myself so convincing because she puts a lot of passion, her own feelings and experiences into the songs. Against all kinds of resistance, Yola had to assert herself. But now she is no longer hiding, she reveals in the title song. She has self-confidence and is vulnerable in the love songs. If there is one message that is summed up under the entire album, it is: Carpe Diem! However, Yola does not have rose-colored glasses on, but makes it clear that everything is by no means good (“Diamond Studded Shoes”). Without any hint of sourness, she gives the harsh reality a musical garb that conveys hope and catapults the soul melody in the chorus into higher spheres like a springboard. The album reaches its climax in the middle of the album: The sparingly accompanied R&B song “If I Had To Do It All Again” presents the full range of Yola’s vocal possibilities. She takes the lead in contemporary soul.
Yola – Stand For Myself listen on Amazon
Jan Lundgren – Into the Night
The Swedish jazz pianist describes it as a heavenly fortune Jan Lundgren the unexpected meeting in a striking new trio line-up. The acclaimed performance of the impromptu ensemble at the Ystad Sweden Jazz Festival at the beginning of August 2020 has now been released by ACT in an extremely finely shaded recording. Instead of the classic jazz trio line-up, Lundgren quickly brought on board the French soprano saxophonist Émile Parisien, who is in great demand in the current jazz scene, due to the corona-related travel regulations. The trio, formed together with bassist Lars Danielsson, manages without a clock. But Lundgren has had a lot of experience with this since the much-acclaimed “Mare Nostrum” records with Richard Galliano and Paolo Fresu.
Lars Danielsson’s melodic bass playing and Parisien’s stylistically saddle-tight playfulness combine extremely smoothly with Lundgren’s lyrical piano playing. Into the night is port wine jazz: lyrically soft, melodically warm, somewhat creamy and pleasantly sweet, the melodies flow into one another equally in the best chamber music style. What comes out of this sensitive musical exchange is catchy, calm and complex.
This almost always slightly melancholy celebration of beauty, which does not require any tonal barbs or melodic rigidity, works best in those numbers that highlight the atmospheric interaction of the three gifted melodies with bittersweet lines without lengthy solo spots, for example in “Asta”, “Schubertauster” , in which Lundgren translates Franz Schubert’s musical idiom with its rhythmic contours and atmospheric harmonies into jazz – or the summer evening “Into the Night”. A delicate, sensitive musical communication at eye level is communicated, which is primarily aimed at rolling out a red carpet for the dark-colored melodies of Émile Parisien. The band leader at the piano never tries to play himself in the foreground, but keeps an eye on the playfully easy interaction of the three voices. If it goes so effortlessly, the heavenly destiny of this trio actually calls for a sequel. That would be necessary if only because the fun of Into the night is over after only 45 minutes.
Jan Lundgren – Into the Night listen on Amazon