By Mike Dunn
A lot of bands lay claim to a “secret weapon:” one particular performer in the group who is some kind of savant on their particular instrument, or has some undeniable charisma that magnetizes the audience. The Tedeschi-Trucks Band is one of those fortunate groups that can claim at least two, in band leaders Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, with taste and charisma enough through the rest of the group to ensure that despite their leaders’ considerable skills, the band is always the bedrock their sound grows from.
Trucks’ slide guitar playing has been held in high regard since he was a teenager, and he’s had a definitive impact of the style; many slide players have elements of Trucks’ right-hand attack in their toolkit, but to really appreciate it, you have to hear it from the hands of Trucks himself. Whether it’s the tasteful backdrop padding of chord tones, or the Indian-influenced acoustic playing on “These Walls,” or the move from down-home clean Delta Blues into higher-power atmosphere dancing on “Leavin’ Trunk,” Trucks is simply a master of tone, taste, and flat-out bottleneck fireworks.
Tedeschi is no slouch on the guitar herself, laying down groovy, Cropper/Nolen Tele-rhythms on the soulful funk of “Don’t Drift Away” and some flash wah licks on the opening cut, “Don’t Know What It Means.” Tedeschi’s impassioned and smoky vocals speak to not only her ability, but her improvisation in between lines shows she’s fully absorbed the Southern style, and it feels fully natural.
The band itself is a collection of top-shelf killers, evidenced by some melodic asides in their extended jams suggesting Coltrane and Davis, with some serious brass-melting saxophone expeditions, while the presence of extra percussion fills the space in all the right places. The Tedeschi-Trucks Band breathes musical fire.Live From The Fox Oakland, Tedeschi-Trucks Band