Stubborn devotees of The Allman Brothers Band insist that the influential act's artistic peak ended with the death of extraordinary guitarist Duane Allman in 1971. Even if the conventional wisdom is correct, a lot of memorable music has been made by the subsequent lineups of The Allman Brothers Band, its splinter groups and associated acts in the intervening forty years.
Thursday's performance by the Tedeschi Trucks Band at Crossroads KC suggests that the relatively new act merits consideration as one of the most worthy of these post-Duane Allman projects. An audience of about 1,000 attended the superlative concert.
The Tedeschi Trucks Band is linked by blood to the original The Allman Brothers Band. Derek Trucks, 32, is the nephew of Butch Trucks, one of the original drummers of The Allman Brothers Band. He and Warren Haynes are the Southern rock band's current guitarists. Trucks married Susan Tedeschi, 40, a blues belter from New England, in 2001. The couple recently formed a new ensemble with nine additional musicians and are touring in support of its soulful debut album Revelator.
Precise but not repressed, the 11-piece band employed excellent arrangements that allowed plenty of separation between each instrument Thursday. Even the dual drummers- a signature feature of The Allman Brothers Band- didn't seem excessive. And most importantly, the stunning vocals of Tedeschi and the awe-inspiring guitar work of Trucks were showcased to perfection.
Trucks' spectacular solo on "Love Has Something Else to Say" evoked John Coltrane's sheets of sound. His sitar-style introduction to "Midnight In Harlem" was an unlikely surprise. The song has the glorious heft of the R&B hits of Solomon Burke. Trucks and saxophonist Kebbi Williams added an adventurous free jazz element to an exploratory version of Delaney & Bonnie's "Comin' Home." While her husband ventured far from the band's bluesy roots, Tedeschi's conventional guitar work and powerhouse vocals kept the band grounded.
Each musician took obvious pleasure in the contributions of his and her bandmates. Even the famously impassive Trucks grinned occasionally. Teamwork salvaged more than one song in the nearly two-hour performance. When a lull loomed during "Bound For Glory," for instance, the three-piece horn section interjected punchy lines that instantly resuscitated the song.
Mike Mattison, a background vocalist in the Tedeschi Trucks Band, opened the concert with a thirty-minute set with his blues band Scrapomatic. His cherubic appearance belies his voice, a raw instrument of the type usually associated with years of hard living. Scrapomatic was followed by Trampled Under Foot. Its 45-minute set of brawny blues demonstrated why the trio of siblings has long been a favorite of Kansas City audiences. The blues isn't usually associated with positive family bonding. Thursday's family affair at Crossroads KC , however, was a wonderful exception.