Words by Jessica Lopa :: Images by Adam McCullough

The Derek Trucks Band & Susan Tedeschi :: 10.28.06 :: Nokia Theatre :: Times Square New York, NY

Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks :: 10.28 :: NYC
Susan Tedeschi took the stage at 8:00pm with a brief introduction to the crowd, sharing her nerves, calmly saying, "Deep breath." This was, however, the first and certainly the last indication of any nerves as she played with great finesse through her hour-and-a-half set, opening with her version of Sly and the Family Stone's "You Can Make It If You Try" and Ray Charles' "Tired of My Tears."

I am quickly reminded why I have been so enamored with Tedeschi in the past. My first exposure to her on Austin City Limits and the album Wait for Me is fresh in my mind. Tedeschi's voice is distinguishable by its clarity and intonation and by her ability to deliver a lyric with beautiful breath control. Tedeschi's artistic nature and ripened vocal ability allow her to breathe soulful vitality into every corner of her phrasing. She is one with her instrument as she is never far from wrapping her vocals in a harmonic matrix, evidence of an ingrained maturity for her craft. She has one of those voices that allows the listener direct insight into the meaning of the lyrics by way of clear pronunciation.

Mike Mattison :: 10.28 :: NYC
After Tedeschi's wonderful warm-up, husband Derek Trucks and his band opened with "I Wish I Knew." I like the message of this song and the appropriate gospel setting chosen for it. The band's use of gospel riffs, guitar and organ alike, make it recognizable to anyone with an ear for church-based music. Mike Mattison's lyrical and inspiring vocal pleas for freedom and understanding among mankind are wisely paired with Trucks' clean guitar solo, leading this joyful up-tempo song through feel-good solos within seven minutes, just long enough to get the audience moving forward with them.

In hindsight I think the decision to open with this selection gives first-time listeners like me insight into one of this band's overall goals: to unite all of us in a spiritual humanness.

Derek Trucks :: 10.28 :: NYC
Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Volunteered Slavery" followed as a great example of the band's knack for arranging. The use of instrumentation in the opening section of this song is anything but subtle. The transition into the hook is a formal musical conversation between a modal flute solo and sparing guitar remarks by Trucks. This short section converges into the main riff of the song. This arrangement highlights the disparity of timbre and range between both the light and airy flute and the thick sounds of Trucks' guitar. Mattison's chant–like vocals are then added in an impromptu fashion in unison with Trucks' guitar, an obvious reminiscing of early slave songs. The song is then brought to a higher ground with the addition of a bass drum-led rock beat, a stark contrast from the preceding, thin high-hat seam of a back-beat in the opening section. The organ gives this song wings when Mattison's easy-to-follow middle-ranged vocals are paired with background vocals, creating a full-band arrangement.

10.28.06 :: NYC
The instrumental piece "Sahib Teri Bandi," with its modal harmonic scheme, sounds mature and ripe with its peaks and valleys of musical nuances. Its main riff is easy to recognize between solos. There is an overwhelming coolness to this piece found in the musical expounding that the players create to show its harmonic appeal.

"Greensleeves" was a great surprise. The arrangement reminded me of progressive jazz, which I did not see coming. Derek Trucks' crowded and quick-moving solos showcase his ability to play to the rafters, seldom touching base with the "Greensleeves" melody from which his virtuosic solo was born. The climatic solo section, including all band members full-steam ahead, is highly evolved, an ending that has the crowd's praise and cheer. My guess is this is what they came to hear.

I think what impresses me most about the double-bill of Derek Trucks Band and Susan Tedeschi Band is the eclectic repertoire and the ability to play music from the roots up, including blues, jazz and soul. Within each song and piece is a journey, a musical personification of longing and pleasure through well-crafted arrangements and imaginative, virtuosic playing.

Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi :: 10.28 :: NYC
Tedeschi joins Trucks on Robert Johnson's, "Walking Blues." Tedeschi is supported by Trucks' comping, leaving lots of space for her to show she can sing a song against any musical background.

The inclusion of the Persuasions, with Trucks, Mattison, and Tedeschi, at the tail end of the show makes for a complementary combination of feel-good vocals and playing on the songs "Sugaree" and "Gonna Move." Tedeschi's laid-back country-swing opening of "Gonna Move" does not take long to build up to inspiring heights with the help of Mattison's vocals, Trucks' perfectly-timed playing, and strong organ in the forefront. Heavy-hitting cymbals flavor this song with new sounds at every change and turn of key.

There is a musical togetherness that is shared throughout the verses and choruses of these songs that is over-the-top without being too much. The show's encore concludes with "The Weight." Tedeschi's full-throat vocals are softened by her ability to remain musical. When it seems she has no room at the top of her range, she has a knack for curving phrases paired with breath support, demonstrating she's got the room and then some.

Layering of harmonies around the band solos, and soulful vocals by Tedeschi make these songs easy on the listeners' ears. Vocal liberty, creativity at the last choruses, and Trucks' wild guitar runs give the show's ending a boast that is enthusiastic, exciting, and at the same time clean and discernable, every element a listener needs to believe in a band - whether they know it or not.

JamBase | New York
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[Published on: 12/1/06]

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NickBoeka Fri 12/1/2006 01:24PM
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Introducing the hottest couple in the scene. God bless their prodigal child, who presumably is already a virtuouso at the "baby-beats" and "baby-sing-a-long" toys. It's only a matter of time before he graces the stage with DTB or with Susan....

Durkin Fri 12/1/2006 04:24PM
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That's really funny Nick....I give it a year or two till that kid is playing next to two other Trucks members at the ABB show. :)

L Fri 12/1/2006 07:09PM
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I can't wait to see them NYE in Atlanta!

DogBreath starstarstarstarstar Sat 12/2/2006 08:55AM
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Jessica, you need to check out Susan's previous releases, "Just won't Burn" and "Better Days", pure gold. The two of them are some of the nicest people in the business. Stay after a show and find out..
I recently saw them at the Birchmere in Va. I'm still having wonderful flashbacks...

cocheese Mon 12/4/2006 08:46AM
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Wow, that article brought back memories of the late nite set at Wannee this past spring. When Susan came out and sang "The Weight" with DTB, FLOORED, simply leveled the whole audience. I'm getting chills right now thinking about it.

Astronaut Jones starstarstarstarstar Mon 12/4/2006 09:45AM
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Astronaut Jones

cocheese--that WAS a killer set @ wannee. best of fest. know what wasn't? either night of the Bros. i'd been waiting forever to hear my favorite song "dreams" with the man himself on slide. remember when they played it? second night w/ jack pearson. lame!

cocheese Tue 12/5/2006 06:23AM
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whoa! whoa! whoa! now, easy on my boy Jackie P. that man is a freak with the slide. He's one of my hometown boys and if you think he's "lame" then come on down to the Music City this Saturday nite at 3rd and Lindsey. I promise you'll change your mind real quick. I loved both nites, actually everything I heard that weekend, well other than "I'm with the DEA, is this your bag?" I've seen around 13 or 14 Brothers shows and have yet to hear my fav, Whipping Post, but hey somethings come with time. Hopefully I'll see you in April down on the Suwannee River.

Astronaut Jones Tue 12/5/2006 09:22AM
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Astronaut Jones

didn't mean to insinuate that Jack isn't a badass. he is indeed just that. i enjoyed greatly his presence on stage and his 2 shows at the mushroom stage. i just was really craving derek's singing slide on the old "dreams". missed wanee the first year? they encored w/ whipping post. probably will in '07 again is my bet. you will definitely see me there. you won't know me, but you'll see me. see you there!

cocheese Tue 12/5/2006 11:37AM
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i gotcha. yeah I liked it the first nite when he was up there with both warren and derek. Jackie P. came out and played with G-Mule at the Ryman last month and, seriously, he stole the show during Sco-Mule. held a note for like 20 minutes or something. MAN I LOVE LIVE MUSIC!

miahmiah starstarstarstar Wed 2/21/2007 11:51PM
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I love these two, what a cool life they seem to have.