Phil Lesh: Phil Lesh (vocals, bass guitar); Larry Campbell, Joan Osborne, John Scofield (guitar); Greg Osby (saxophone); Rob Barraco (keyboards); John Molo (drums).
Phil Lesh & Friends' Live at the Warfield (recorded May 18 and 19, 2006) follows a carload of live recordings issued on the Instant Live label a month previously. On these dates, the band consisted of Lesh on bass and vocals, the divine Ms. Joan Osborne on vocals, guitarists Larry Campbell and John Scofield, saxophonist Greg Osby, drummer John Molo, and Rob Barraco on keyboards and vocals. The program is Grateful Dead material (what else?) and the performance is stellar. (One interesting and necessary side note: the brief elegy Lesh offers for Ramrod, the then recently deceased equipment manager for the Dead, is deeply moving and beautiful.) Osborne is the perfect vocalist for this troupe; she is soulful and adds a degree of funkiness to the proceedings -- especially on the more R&B and jazz-oriented material like "Shakedown Street" and "Turn on Your Love Light." (If only she'd find a producer who could bring out this voice on a studio recording. Perhaps this should be her backing band next time out!) Mostly, the backing vocals add nothing, and could have been left out of the arrangements altogether (the two exceptions are "Cosmic Charlie" and "I Know You Rider"). Other than this small complaint -- it is live, after all -- this band is rehearsed, tight, and focused. Scofield and Campbell work well together, complementing each other's fills and grooves seamlessly. On the jam material like the "Dark Star" and "The Other One" medley, "The Wheel," and "Scarlet Begonias," the rhythm section is unshakable inside the grand improvisation that takes place. Fans of the Dead will no doubt embrace this, especially since the package is available in a couple of different ways -- the shows are included in a special DVD package, but this one contains two discs of music and a bonus DVD that features a conversation with Lesh, Scofield, and Osby; a jazz instrumental jam with Osby, Lesh, Scofield, and Molo; and two other cuts, full-band performances of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" and Lesh's "Passenger." ~ Thom Jurek
1. Conversation With Phil Lesh, John Scofield And Greg Osby.
2. Jazz Jam
3. Backstage Rehearsal
4. All Along The Watchtower