"Side Trips Vol. 1" by Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales (1999)
Usually I am not a fan of posthumous releases. They are frequently the ill-inspired work of money-hungry record labels, that exploit the names of our favorite deceased artists, by distributing material the artist chose not to release while alive. But with Side Trips, this is not the case.
This album has an incredible amount of integrity. It was recorded in 1970 and how it stayed a secret until now is a mystery to me. This album has a lot to offer--namely, Jerry at his best. Teamed up with old pal Howard Wales (who was also on JerryÕs Hooteroll), these two lay down intense jazz riffs common to Jerry's Dead-style space jams. Secondly, the albums' line-up also boasts jazz masters Bill Vitt and John Kahn. And thirdly, the production on this album is far beyond what you'd expect from a previously unheard-of session recorded in 1970.
Side Trips is entirely instrumental--so don't pick this up expecting to hear Robert Hunter lyrics and Jerry's vocals. Do expect to hear exceptionally well-thought out, surprisingly long, guitar jazz. There are only four tracks on this album, the average song lasting around fifteen minutes and the longest, "All For Life," lasting twenty-four and a half minutes. The real gem on this CD is "Venetian Blue." This guitar jazz masterpiece is beautiful, technical, and the ending is intricatly woven into the Dead favorite "The Other One." Whether you are a Garcia fan or a jazz fanatic, the next time you are on your way to work, take a Side Trip and pick this up--you won't be disappointed.
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