Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Music:

Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs. Morse has described his style of writing and arranging as electric chamber music. The following YouTube clip refers to them as playing "a wonderful mix of bluegrass & mahavishnu," the latter referring to John McLaughlin's seminal fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra. The following is taken from their Montreux Jazz Festival appearance in 1977. They were in their early 20s.

The original band has an interesting history and one that illustrates the precariousness of attempting to make a "career" out of being a musician. Bassist Andy West went on to be a computer programmer. Violinist Allan Sloan became an anesthesiologist. Drummer Rod Morganstein got a gig with 80s hair band "Winger" and now teaches at my alma matter Berklee College of Music. Morse himself quit the music business twice, once becoming a professional pilot for TWA, but now serves as guitarist for legendary rock band Deep Purple and still records and tours with the Steve Morse Band and the Dixie Dregs when not working with Deep Purple. I've seen Morse many times, but my favorite was when his 3-piece (the Steve Morse Band) opened for his 5-piece (the Dixie Dregs).

Morse is a virtuoso guitarist known for his incredible right handed technique. Some newer young guns are faster. But that doesn't matter; Morse plays fast enough. And more importantly, his playing shows that no matter how great one's technique, what really matters is melody, soul, that you play licks that sound cool.

Here is a clip with Deep Purple:

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