Happy Birthday Jaimoe: Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band Plays Allman Brothers Band Classics
Drummer Jai Johanny Johanson, best known to our readers as Jaimoe, was born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi on this date in 1944. Jaimoe followed stints in Otis Redding and Sam & Dave’s touring bands by teaming up with Gregg Allman, Duane Allman, Butch Trucks, Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley to form The Allman Brothers Band. The group went on to become one of the most successful rock bands over the next seven years before parting ways in 1976. Jaimoe took part in their 1978 – 1980 and 1989 – 2014 reunions as a period between 1981 and 1982 was the only portion of the band’s legendary career in which the drummer didn’t participate. Butch Trucks’ powerhouse “freight train” sound mixed perfectly with Jaimoe’s jazzy, latin and more subtle style in an innovative way that was crucial to the ABB’s dynamic.
At age 74, Johanson is one of just two surviving founding members of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame act. While Jaimoe focused his efforts on The Allman Brothers Band for the most part during their tenure, he did form Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band in 2006 to keep him busy when his main act was off the road. Now, the group is the drummer’s sole focus following the end of The Allman Brothers Band in 2014. Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band’s repertoire includes a number of ABB classics. Here’s a look at the group’s take on five of them in honor of Jaimoe’s birthday:
The first video features Jaimoe’s ensemble performing the Dickey Betts-penned “Blue Sky” on December 13, 2017 at The Iridium in New York City. Saxophonist Kris Jensen and guitarist Junior Mack swap transcendent solos throughout while Jaimoe helps keep them on point with his steady hand. Check out the footage captured by 31-30 Creative Arts Marketing:
Jaimoe takes to the mic before his band serves up “Southbound” at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, Pennsylvania on February 24, 2018 to dedicate the song to his “old partner Forrest Richard Betts” and welcomes the news Dickey would soon be returning to the road. Junior Mack’s soulful vocals evoke the spirit of Gregg Allman without imitating him. The horn section of Reggie Pittman and Jensen standout on this track The Allman Brothers Band recorded for 1973’s Brothers & Sisters. Here’s video from Sellersville captured by Big Al With Cheese:
At the 2015 Peach Music Festival in Scranton, Pennsylvania Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band was joined by former ABB guitarist Jack Pearson for an inspired rendition of “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed.” Pearson shows off the skills that made him such a fan favorite for his short tenure with the Allman Brothers Band. Junior Mack also throws down a memorable solo featuring an intense peak. Watch how it went down thanks to ABBSister:
Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band’s performance at The Iridium on June 28, 2017 was a particularly emotional one as the group took the stage together for the first time since Gregg Allman’s death one month earlier. Songs such as “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” hit home in a new way following the loss of the man whose voice was a signature part of the Allman Brothers Band sound. Keyboardist Brian Charette locks in with Jaimoe on a latin-tinged section that serves as the highlight of this stunning rendition of the Eat A Peach gem, which also features a few teases from Mack during his solo. Check out footage captured by Alan Paul:
On March 17, 2012 Jaimoe headed down to The Iridium in New York City for a late night show with his ensemble after finishing an earlier performance with The Allman Brothers Band at The Beacon Theatre. Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band mostly sticks to the script when performing ABB tunes, but they offer up a jazzy (jasssy?) interpretation of “Melissa.” The group recorded their version of “Melissa” for 2011’s Renaissance Man. Mack provides strong vocals, while Bruce Katz uncorks a dynamic piano solo. Watch video captured by Scott Gibson: