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Monday, December 05, 2011

Melvin in the House: JGB, Keystone Palo Alto, January 22, 1981

LN jg1981-01-22.jgb.partial.aud-latvala.97266.flac1644

Corry listened to this and said he didn't hear two keyboards (in comments to his main post on Jimmy Warren). I don't think I do, either, but I'd love for someone to check the 2-minute mark of I'll Take a Melody and the 6-minute mark of Like a Road.

I have a much longer post about all of this, but for now I thought I'd post my listening notes.

Jerry Garcia Band
Keystone Palo Alto
January 22, 1981 (Thursday)
partial show

--(5 tracks, 58:36)--
jg1981-01-22-latvala-partial-t01. Let It Rock [8:04] [0:03] % {8:07}
jg1981-01-22-latvala-partial-t02. Simple Twist Of Fate [12:53] [0:06] % {12:59}
jg1981-01-22-latvala-partial-t03. Like A Road [13:27] [0:04] %
jg1981-01-22-latvala-partial-t04. … Sitting Here In Limbo [9:09] [0:07] %
jg1981-01-22-latvala-partial-t05. [0:04] I'll Take A Melody [14:29] % [0:07]
[MISSING -> Midnight Moonlight

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia Band #12a
! lineup: Jerry Garcia – el-g, vocals;
! lineup: John Kahn – el-bass;
! lineup: Melvin Seals – keyboards (Hammond B3);
! lineup: Daoud Shaw – drums.

! Recording: symbols: % = recording discontinuity; / = clipped song; // = cut song; ... = fade in/out; # = truncated timing; [ ] = recorded event time. The recorded event time immediately after the song or item name is an attempt at getting the "real" time of the event. So, a timing of [x:xx] right after a song title is an attempt to say how long the song really was, as represented on this recording.
! db: (this fileset). There are no other known recordings.

! band: JGB #12a (
1995.html). This is a quartet, very rare. Only these two shows (1/22-23) in this configuration. Then Jimmy Warren comes in, and later they add backing vocalists to turn it into a septet. See further notes below.
! R: Field Recordist: Dick Latvala;
! R: Field Recording Equipment: Nakamichi CM-300 microphone(s) > Technics 686 cassette recorder;
! R: Field Recording Location: front tables
! R: Post-Master Lineage: 1st generation cassette played back on Tascam 112mkII > Manley SLAM! > Anagram ADC (16/44.1) > HHB CDR 850 >  CD > EAC > WAV > tracking (CDWave) > flac encoding (FLAC Frontend, level 8). All transfers and edits by df.
! Notes: “ - A huge thanks to Jeffrey Knudsen for supplying the analog tapes”
! Notes: “- Dick put this as fill on the 01-23-81 tapes sent to Jeffrey.”
! R: This is a really nice recording. Everything is there. Keys, bass, drums also captured very nicely.
! Setlist: my sense is that this is the end of set II (one can faintly hear Midnight Moonlight starting up). This fragment of tape supplies the only setlist information for the show.
! Historical: Personnel: I have noted that this is probably the great Melvin Seals’s debut with the Jerry Garcia Band, with which he’d play nearly without substitute for the next 15+ years. Melvin enters the taped record of his time with the Jerry Garcia Band with a nice, full, sweeping, on-key, sufficiently loud drop into this version of Let It Rock, about 25 seconds in. He is right there with everything to start Let It Rock. An impressive debut. This is also the public debut of Daoud Shaw with the JGB. On current understanding, he would play through June 1, 1981, though I’d want to widen my confidence bands around that estimate. Finally, as of December 2011, this has also been considered the public debut of Jimmy Warren, who played a Fender Rhodes electric piano. For almost a year and a half (into June 1982), the JGB would feature a twin keyboard attack almost unique in Garcia’s entire musical career. Yet it is not clear to me whether Jimmy Warren is here. Corry noted at Hooterollin’ Around that he is not present. I thought I heard a piano twice in listening to this, around 2: If that’s the case, then this is a previously-unknown quartet –Garcia, Kahn, Seals, Shaw—a relatively rare formation for Jerry. I guess now I need to listen to the next few shows, to learn more.
! P: t01 Let It Rock @ 2:20 he just does a second solo right away, and by 2:30 it's fanning like a motherfucker. Then he runs another bar of solos at 2:50ish formed not of malevolent fanning, but of aggressive, brassy picking and bending. Second verse comes in maybe 3:25 and Jerry is positively *enthused*. Melvin had been a little forward for a bit prior to this second verse, but we aren't really doing the Everything-I-Needed-To-Know-I-Learned-In-Kindergarten thing (to wit: “Share your toys”) thing here. Jerry’s just gonna keep soloing. That’s great. This is a brand new band. These other guys have maybe just been learning their charts and haven’t had time to think (nor reps to practice) soloing. And, hell, “When in doubt, let Garcia solo” is not a bad rule of thing. Garcia is shredding like a motherfucker here, very much akin to what we’d hear on, say, February 4, 1981 at the start of the east coast tour.
! P: t01 LIR JG solo @ 6:50 just filthy. Not surprising that the only shows that sound remotely like this are also first-half of 1981. In fact, I’d say that there is a distinctive sound to the first half of 1981 (and obvious historic reasons for which they should sound of apiece; the ...
! R: t02 enters with more hiss. There are a couple of indeterminate little clicks in the first 0:45, but give the picture that one can paint of taping this gig at this time/place (see the gloriously mindblown narratives that attach to the contemporary Jeff Knudsen tapes), and so one can infer that it’s from the master, its true nature is probably indeterminate, and it’s to be enjoyed as another artifact, brought to the future, of the glorious space-time confluence of the Keystone Palo Alto, on this night.
! P: t02 STOF @ 12-min mark is kind of a clusterfuck. It’s good that Jerry is trying to be assertive in signaling to these new guys that he wants to wrap it up, but it just comes off a little abrupt. And, for this era, it is pretty abrupt. This may well be one of the shorter pre-coma versions of STOF out there.
! setlist t03 This is the first “Like A Road” since March 14, 1974 (TJS).
! t03 Audience member calls out Like a Road while they are warming it up. What a knowledgeable audience! (I know it was released on Live at Keystone.) That’s gotta feel great to Garcia, to play to these people who know him so well, even in Palo Alto. I’d bet Freddie Herrera is on the peninsula when Jerry’s there. A nice, friendly, comfy crowd.
! P: t03 LAR Melvin Seals is a genius.
! P: t03 I think I can hear the electric piano in the 2-min mark of LAR. Piano playing while Melvin has got two hands, making his Hammond testify to us that there is, indeed, “a road leading home”. He is right there. I am not 100% sure it’s not Melvin playing organ with one hand and a little keyboard with the other … I just don’t know.
! P: t03 Like A Road is nice. It’s a little shaky, a little fragile. But think about what a genius choice it is when you have Melvin Seals, who has been spending 15 years of Sundays in Oakland churches, on the bench over there.
! R: t04 SIL enters in progress, not much missing. First 30 seconds sound is low (levels, loose cable, I dunno), more hiss and so forth, but things click in @ 0:32 or so and we’re back to a nice tape.
! P: t04 SIL @ 4:30 Garcia does repeats a nice little upward three-note run maybe three times. It’s pretty, not something I recall hearing him do much. @ 5:15 Melvin does a powerful blast off, where the Hammond is really vocalizing and says to the audience “I’m here!”. An aggressive, confident, and picture-perfect note. And you can feel the crowd jump back a little bit, and cheer. And even at this remove, that note gave me a little jolt. Well, guess what … Jerry heard it too! And they double-time it (not quite, maybe time-and-a-half-time it) for just a little bit. Really nice interplay between Melvin and Jerry, and I have to say that Daoud Shaw is right there in the pocket. That guy’s a pro.
! P: t03 LAR @ 11:57 Jerry shows a little vocal strain on “you travelin’ on” … it’s a little rough, but someone in the audience claps a little bit to pick him up. And in the context of the song (“and the road \ you’ve been travelin’ on \ doesn’t seem to be goin’\ anywhere”), it’s powerful. Not much sense speculating too deeply about people’s personal lives and proclivities, so that’s not the point. The point is just that that snapshot in time (Jerry feeling it, trying to get there but falling short, audience member picking him up and dusting him off, and Jerry gamely picking it up) is really evocative. The crystal of that moment embodies a lot of truth, tells us a lot. If the arc of anyone’s life is a series of moments, and if the idea of prosopography is that, given the time, energy, data, measurement technology and so forth, we can know things in ways approximating “truth”, then we could hold the jewel of that moment up, spend a long time with it, and learn an awful lot. The meaning of life might be hidden in that moment if we care to unlock it.
! Q: t05 Are there two keyboards @ 6:08 of ITAM, or is that all Melvin?
! P: t05 ITAM Daoud Shaw jumps onto a little double-time thing for awhile and gets Jerry to put his cape on. John keeps reasserting a slower pace (which I guess is his job), and after galloping around for a few bars Garcia digs deep and loud into a slightly more deliberate pace. But it’s a neat 30-second speed interlude in a song that almost never featured such a thing. @@ May well be unique (or I could find that it was always there, I just never noticed it until now).
! setlist: one can clearly hear the first notes of Midnight Moonlight coming out of ITAM.

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