Featured Album – Big Band of Brothers – A Jazz Celebration of the Allman Brothers Band

C’mon now. You didn’t really think I’d get through the year without an Allmans post. Truthfully, I never even heard of this fucking thing. It came out last November and I stumbled on it. I’ll combine notes from their web site with my own pithy statements.

While you can certainly do jazz interpretations of a lot of rock bands, you really have to rearrange many of their songs to do so. The Allmans swung (baby) right out of the gate. One of their drummers, Jaimoe, introduced the band to Miles and Coltrane. Duane and Dickey used to listen to Kind of Blue (for one) till their heads popped off. (See quote below).

Released in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band’s debut album, the 10-song( 15-piece band) set of jazz interpretations of Allman Brothers Band favorites features Marc Broussard and Ruthie Foster on vocals on two songs each.

Of Broussard, Wikipedia says, “Marc Broussard is an American singer-songwriter. His style is best described as “Bayou Soul”, a mix of funk, blues, R&B, rock, and pop. In his career, he has released eight studio albums, one live album, three EPs, and has charted twice on Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks.

Ruthie Cecelia Foster is an American singer-songwriter of blues and folk music. She mixes a wide palette of American song forms, from gospel and blues to jazz, folk, and soul. She’s got three Blues Music Awards (Best Female Vocalist, Live at Antone’s) and Best Female Vocalist at the 2013 Austin Music Awards. She won the Koko Taylor Award for Best Traditional Female Blues Artist and traded off with Susan Tedeschi at the ABB’s 2012 Beacon run.

From the site: While jazz interpretations of Allman Brothers Band classics might come off as a surprise to some, the genre always held great inspiration for the band and its members.

Gregg Allman, recalling the band’s early days, said that “Jaimoe turned all of us on to so much neat stuff. He gave us a proper education about jazz and got us into Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Kind of Blue was always on the turntable – Duane really got his head around that album – and he also seriously dug Coltrane’s My Favorite Things.”

Let’s listen to some of this shit, shall we? This is “Hot ‘Lanta,” a personal favorite:

Spotify link

The album also features Jack Pearson on guitar, who performed as a member of the Allman Brothers Band from 1997 to 1999. The celebrated trombonist Wycliffe Gordon of Jazz at Lincoln Center fame is featured as a soloist on “Don’t Want You No More,” and wrote the arrangement for “Statesboro Blues.” Gordon is consistently ranked among leading trombone players in the Downbeat critics poll and has topped the list at least five times.

Let’s A) listen to Ruthie blow through “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin” and 2) recognize that if they’d thought about it for two minutes they would have called the album Big Band of Brothers and Sisters.

Spotify link

Of this album, AllMusic says, “While at first the notion of a big band take on the bluesy, hard-rocking sound of late guitarist Duane Allman and his brother, singer/keyboardist Gregg Allman, might seem like an odd fit, it works quite well. The BBB group don’t actually have to alter the band’s music much to make it work here — tracks like the opening “Statesboro Blues,” “Hot ‘Lanta,” and “Don’t Want You No More” were already fairly swinging songs built around solo-friendly R&B forms.

Even the more esoteric songs like the flowing ballad “Dreams” and Dickey Betts’ instrumental “Les Brers in A Minor” fit easily into the sonically expansive yet tightly swinging approach of the. Admittedly, there’s a level of West Coast studio slickness that creeps into some of these arrangements, detracting from some of the raw musicianship on display. Nonetheless, the loose spirit and genre-crossing sense of discovery that drove much of the Allman Brothers’ music is equally at work here.”

Let’s end up with “Statesboro Blues” and call it a day. As much as I like the slide on this one, I would love to have heard a horn play that riff. Duane’s slide style was to mimic harmonicas, horns, etc. But I quibble. Feel free to spin around the floor on this one, 10 cents a dance.

Don’t be too put off by the cocktail lounge intro of this version (not even really an ABB song but written by Blind Willie McTell.) Give it a moment and they’ll let it rip:

Spotify link

7 thoughts on “Featured Album – Big Band of Brothers – A Jazz Celebration of the Allman Brothers Band

    1. Crazy isn’t it? I was literally just Googling for a chord sheet for one of their tunes. Then this album popped up. Couldn’t believe it. Timed just 50 years after their debut. Sounds great. I look forward (hopefully) to Volume 2 where they do “Jessica” and “Blue Sky.”

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        1. That’s pretty awesome. It’s unlikely I’d attend as I figure I saw them on one of their very last Beacon dates and maybe I’ll just leave it at that. Dickey Betts can be such an asshole. His manager said he can’t attend as he has “prior commitments.” Really? What, a birthday party? Due to his health issues he canceled all of last year’s touring and there is literally nothing up on his page about touring thus far this year.

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  1. Listening to the whole album. ‘Liz Reed’ is just on. I had to get up and drop a comment. The sax and guitar kill it. Really good stuff Doc. I’ve been in a jazz/funk groove, Jimmy smith, Grant Green, Gene Harris vibe. This album is right in there. This will get some heavy rotation at my place. Good find.


    1. Yeah it’s a killer, eh? As mentioned I totally fucking stumbled on it. So glad I did. I listened to the whole thing (a rarity for me) and I will again multiple times for sure. Glad you dug it.

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