I’ve got a lot going on these days, and I’m getting off to a very late start on blog posts so I’ll make it easy on myself when it comes to doing a jazz-fusion music playlist for today.  I’ll go with one of my all-time heroes, a guitar wizard, a player who I’d go to see in concert — and did last year — if he ever came around for a rare appearance and my bank account said maybe I’d better give it some serious thought.

Jeff Beck at the Palais, Melbourne, Australia ...
Jeff Beck at the Palais, Melbourne, Australia 26th January 2009 See the full gallery: http://www.pixels-bandwidth.com/images/jeff_beck_palais/. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m going with Jeff Beck.

Beck is a guitar player’s guitar player.  I’ve seen an interview with Eric Clapton where he says he’s watched Beck do things he doesn’t have any idea how to do himself, and he makes it all look so easy.  He’s a player who could have Jimmy Page sitting in the audience and leave him smiling and shaking his head in wonder.

Beck’s been around for many a year, played all kinds of songs with all kinds of people.  He helped put Rod Stewart on the map during his rock/birth of heavy metal days.  He can play the blues like a man possessed.  He can play pop.  He can do techno.

Jeff Beck’s gone in phases through the years with all of the different styles of albums he’s recorded.  My first real exposure to Beck’s music was his fusion period from 1975-80, specifically being introduced with his “Jeff Beck Live With the Jan Hammer Group.”  As soon as I heard that opening song, “Freeway Jam,” being done live — complete with the sounds of cars honking and passing by, brought to us by Beck and Hammer pulling out the sounds on guitar and keys … I was hooked … for life.

So, when Beck and his band came to The Depot in Salt Lake City to kick off another U.S. leg of his tour supporting the Grammy Award-winning album “Emotion & Commotion,” well … I HAD TO GO.  It was one of those life-shaking experiences, and I’m talking beyond the fact that drummer Narada Michael Walden — who goes back to Beck’s fusion period — hit the skins so hard I could feel it standing three or four rows from the center of the stage.

I’ll take Jeff Beck in any style that he plays, and I have darn near every album he’s ever recorded as a solo artist.  But when he played fusion … it seems that a person’s first exposure is usually their fondest.


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