Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders Band: Keystone Berkeley – September 1, 1974

The latest Pure Jerry release from the estate of the late Jerry Garcia strikes gold with the Jerry Garcia & Merl Saunders Band recorded on September 1, 1974 at the Keystone Berkeley. The 3 CD set is a wonderful representation of the band that played with Jerry and Merl at the time: John Kahn on bass, Martin Fierro on sax and flute, and Paul Humphrey on drums. An unidentified trumpet player also appears on the disc.

Lots of Saunders/Garcia live staples here, a mixture of Dylan tunes, Motown standards and originals by Garcia and Saunders, a similar show formula that Jerry followed for many years to come. It sounds like the band was having a ball and the sound quality is top notch. Liner notes claim some material is from remastered 2 track work tapes from the late summer of 74. Apparently these recordings, originally done by Betty Cantor-Jackson, have been restored in all their glory.

Disc one highlights include the funky groove of “Keepers,” the beautiful reggae of “Sitting Here in Limbo,” as well as Bob Dylan’s “Tough Mama.” Disc two mixes it up with a long version of Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder they Come” and the Motown classics “Second that Emotion” and “Roadrunner.” The third CD offers Merl’s super bad “Soul Roach,” the oft covered “Mystery Train” and the haunting Robbie Robertson’s “Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.

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