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Friday, September 26, 2014

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders at the Keystone Korner, May 20, 1971 (LN jg1971-05-20.jgms.80mins.sbd-boswell-smith.126365.flac2496)

Corry heard a lot of this keyboard work as Howard Wales. So did I. I also heard Jerry's guitar tone as 1968, and the recording as the Matrix. I parsed the tape, which seems correctly identified, we talked it over, and I think we agree that this is some very interesting tape.

Speaking for myself, I consider this some of Jerry Garcia's finest guitar playing, period. I can't recommend strongly enough that you check this out.

Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
Keystone Korner
750 Vallejo Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

May 20, 1971 (Thursday)
80 min Boswell-Smith flac2496 shnid-126365

--(6 tracks, 80:26)--

--piece-of-tape-01 (43 minutes)--
t01. Save Mother Earth [8:40] -> collective improvisation [4:37] ->
t02. Save // Mother Earth [3:#56] -> collective improvisation [10:56] ->
t03. collective improvisation [14:54] %% [0:24] %

--piece-of-tape-02 (9 minutes)--
t04. noodling [0:12], untitled-19710520-1-blues [8:06] [0:20] %

--piece-of-tape-03 (28 minutes)--
t05. [0:59] Little Bit of Righteousness [22:45] ->
t06. untitled-19710520-2-slow// [4:42#]

! ACT1: Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders
! lineup: Jerry Garcia - el-g;
! lineup: Merl Saunders - keyboards, ?synthesizers?;
! lineup: ?John Kahn? - el-b;
! lineup: ?Bill Vitt? - 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.
! JGC:
! map:
! db: shnid-93137 | shnid-100855 | (this fileset). All three capture the same source reel. See notes below.
! metadata:
! see also: for some general discussion of the period. (5/11/71 listening notes) for a contemporaneous version of Save Mother Earth.
! R: likely lineage: MSR @ 7 1/2 ips > 1st copy reel (made by Kidd and owned by Jerry Garcia, in possession of Debbie) > 2nd copy reel (made and owned by Will Boswell) @ 7 1/2 ips;
! R: transfer: Revox A77 > Bottlehead tube tape pre pair Tesla tubes circa 1980 > Apogee Mini Me 24/96 > Apogee Mini DAC monitoring and mastering > FLAC, transfer by Matt Smith.
! R: seeder notes: "Here's a fresh transfer by Matt from Will's reels using his new frontend."
! R: "This reel was first transferred by Matt in 2008 (shnid-93137).  It was retransferred in 2009 by GEMS (shnid-100855) due in part by the additional research Matt and David Lemiuex did. This transfer using the Bottlehead, December 2013. Remember that the nature of the tube transfer results in much lower gain, but a richer and deeper content. That's what 11 is for."
! R: the pitch of 5/11/71 (shnid-28784) and this SME are very different. I presume that one is off-pitch. Since Garcia says it's a tune in G (5/11/71 note 1), it should be fixable.
! P: t01 @ 8:32 Jerry strums the SME groove, but no-one else really bites. Jerry pursues something shiny 9:10. 11:19 we are drifting in space, a little cosmic drift, space dust. This is way outside the song structure. One way to think of the tracking is the various movements. It was SME, and we can take Jerry's strum @ 8:32 to signal departure from the theme. By 12:33 he is off in a deep, very Grateful Deadish space.
! R: t02 @ 2:38 there is tape discontinuity, but it doesn't feel very long to me. This occurs about 16 minutes into the recording, FTR.
! t02 I would have tracked this differently. The track marker is precisely where Vitt drives them back to SME, and they are playing SME.
! P: t02 in the 2-min range Jerry is playing some beautiful Spanish flavor, John matches the feeling very nicely. Things get good and dissonant 3:57, first taken out by John Kahn! Merl makes it spooky, and Garcia starts really doing some hammering, into a Tiger space 4:59 over 5, perfect scrubbing, more near-Tiger @ 5:06, some very stringy stuff, 5:38 piercing, controlled feedback, more squealing over 6, really riding it 6:07, Vitt splashes 6:12. Jerry drops from violin to viola register, but only briefly, Merl swirls some stuff forward, everyone out spacy together 7:30, Merl louder, Jerry strum more gently late 7, slowing it down and letting it breathe, Vitt splashes again 8:15, JG and BV putting some tempo on it, a slow sad thing 8:30. vitt is such a great player. Right around 9:40 he picks up the pace and drives the band into a faster piece, Jerry is playing BEAUTIFULLY here. This really is some of his finest guitar playing. BV's opening could be called the return to SME, because I can feel the song again in this part, especially from Merl, but I guess really from Jerry, too. 11:20 he's playing SME. @ 11:25 Jerry and Vitt both hit a three-beat run *perfectly in time with each other*.  Vitt is playing like magician here. This is a little faster, John is playing his After Midnight thing, Jerry playing lead guitar, overflowing, 12:42, fluent and voluble in this segment, lots to say. Listen to Garcia's fast runs 14:20! What a concept! Dropping down to spacy feeling to the end of the track.
! P: t03 At the very start of the track, he strums the Tighten Up theme. This is tracked at a new theme that Jerry promotes, louder. This stuff reminds me of the Hartbeats, say, at 45 seconds in.  This new theme comes up again 1:20 ish, it reminds me of Tighten Up. Drummer is SWINGIN', some great splashes 3:30 ish. track 3 really sounds like 1968 guitar tone to me. Yes, I hear what you are saying about the organist @ 5:36 - that's Wales. And the drummer is swinging really hard. And the bassist is walking it with a little modal feel that doesn't sound like John Kahn, necessarily. @ 6:45, 7:00 - Wales sound. Scrubbing 7:26, more through 7:45, plucks some stuff 7:54, plucking, pluck, pluck ... Garcia is suggesting some melody 8:30, but it doesn't take. Pretty good deep space over 10 - end.
! t03: applause analysis: sounds like a few dozen people in a small room. Sounds like Matrix, though since there are no tapes from KK it's hard to say what that room would have sounded like.
! t04: original notes: "This is one of the Wales songs, I think. Sounds like Wales on organ to me. Around 4 keyboardist switches to a piano for a bit, then 4:18 to organ." But 9/26/2014 I have revisited, and I am revising my opinion. I don't think it's a Wales original. It's something, but since the tape is JGMS, per the provenance, it can't be Wales.
! t04: Applause analysis: Not much of a crowd - sounds like Matrix to me.
! P: t05 this sounds like the same organist to me, but how can Howard be playing a Merl Saunders original? The bass @ 9:42 sounds like John to me, but I now feel thoroughly confused. Definitely the Wales thing @ 13:44. Bassist is feathering like Jack late 15. Garcia is hinting The Other One just before that, and still @ 16:11. I have never heard John Kahn play bass like that. @ 17:56 the drummer drops them right back to a great, fast LBOR thing, and it wanders away again. In late 22 early 23 bassist seems to be calling back LBOR, but it's not happening.
! P: t06 I may have been responsible for this being called Summertime, but it's not quite Summertime. Maybe late spring, har har. Bassist is playing some great stuff as the tape ends.


  1. May I ask a kind soul to give me some hints on finding the recordings discussed above?
    Thank you so much.
    shnid-100855 |

  2. Anon, everything Garcia is available at the Lossless Legs torrent tracker, URL is Go there, register, go to the Garcia LL Lists and find the fileset you are looking for, start running the torrent, and then, if it's not seeding, request a reseed. Someone will start seeding it for you. If you have trouble, you can send me an email.

  3. Thank you very much for your reply, jgmf.
    I am downloading music now!!


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