Published Jun 29, 2016The Vancouver International Jazz Festival really outdid itself this year by snagging roots music heavy-hitters the Tedeschi Trucks Band. A 12-piece cannonball of talent and old jazz/blues influences that span all the greats, this fusion of married couple Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks' old bands is a force to be reckoned with.
The crowd on Tuesday, June 28 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in downtown Vancouver consisted both of those who were well aware of the group's accolades and those who were simply checking out what the festival had to offer. What they were met with were two percussionists on full drum sets, a trombonist, a trumpeter, a saxophonist, three supporting vocalists, a pianist and flutist, a bassist and the perfectly paired combo of Trucks' guitar and Tedeschi's guitar and voice. In short, it was a musical extravaganza.
Once the group ripped into original song "Don't Know What It Means," concertgoers started to realize just how fantastic the Jacksonville-based group band are. Tedeschi's exquisite voice, reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin, was in perfect form from the first notes of "Laugh About It" to the last song. It is hard to critique a band that's so polished, and that offered jam band qualities that showcased each instrument and voice perfectly despite the group's size.
Following a beautifully dirty saxophone introduction, the band tore into a downhome bluesy cover of the Box Tops classic, "The Letter." You've never heard the love story this way before — Tedeschi wailed the lines with raspy yet unwavering, soulful vocals. The Tedeschi Trucks band have a keen knack for weaving country and rock'n'roll with R&B in such an effortless way that it's clear why their individual performance histories include such legends as the Allman Brothers and the Rolling Stones.
Trucks and Tedeschi's individual old blues/jazz-rock styles complement each other, giving a "best of both worlds" feel. Trucks' jam band style was evident throughout the show as he interacted primarily with Tedeschi, the pianist/flutist and the bassist. The group's "Don't Drift Away" took a choral gospel turn, showing their versatility; directly afterward, Trucks took on the first really impressive guitar solo of the night, dropping the slide on the floor with passion.
A former Allman Brothers Band member and Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time inductee, Trucks is easily one of the top ten greatest living slide guitarists. His stoic and calm stage presence is a wild contrast to his guitar methods; he makes it look so easy, and yet you know it's not. This is why fans and critics alike compare him to his mentors and inspirations: Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Eric Clapton and B.B. King, to name a few.
Taking the show into bare bones territory, Tedeschi and backup vocalists Mike Mattison and Alicia Charkour harmonized the gorgeous George Jones song "Color of the Blues." This gospel moment caused an audience member to yell "I love this church!" prompting laughter from Tedeschi. Mattison offered even more soul to the evening with numerous solo performances, channeling James Brown at times. Previously the lead vocalist of the Derek Trucks Band, Mattison took to the background a bit with the newer band, but Tedeschi certainly made sure to showcase his talents.
Following a series of long instrumental solos and some killer Trucks guitar, the night ended with a cover of the Coasters' "Let's Go Get Stoned." While audience members who felt the need to dance were quickly shut down by Queen Elizabeth staff, there was a deep sense of awe and the need to groove in the crowd. The Tedeschi Trucks' mixture of covers and originals in Vancouver worked as both a musical history lesson and an example of ensemble perfection.