Lifeboat, the first solo record from guitar virtuoso Jimmy Herring, is an outstanding release featuring a stellar cast of performers, including Herring’s former Aquarium Rescue Unit bandmates Kofi Burbridge (keyboards and piano), Oteil Burbridge (bass) and Jeff Sipe (drums), along with Greg Osby (saxophone), Derek Trucks (guitar), Bobby Lee Rodgers (Leslie and rhythm guitar), Tyler Greenwell (drums), and Ike Stubblefield (keyboards).
Herring and crew come out firing on the opening track “Scapegoat Blues,” a song that shows Herring’s love for the blues, as well as diminished scales. Though far from conventional blues, “Lifeboat Serenade,” perhaps the record’s most impressive piece, conveys a sense of loss while celebrating the joy that good times can bring.
“Jungle Book Overture,” which opens the classic Disney animated feature, features the same profound melody and chord changes of the original, along with scintillating instrumental solos that greatly enhance the track. “Lost,” an ode to Herring’s favorite jazz composer, Wayne Shorter, is the only other non-original piece of music on a record featuring six songs written by Herring, along with two tracks written by Kofi Burbridge.
Lifeboat closes with “Splash,” one of Kofi’s originals, which happens to be the only song to appear on any Aquarium Rescue Unit release that did not feature Herring’s fiery guitar. Greg Osby also adds his unique saxophone voice to this track, bringing the music to a huge crescendo as the record comes to a close.
Lifeboat may garner many new fans for Herring. Those already in the know are sure to enjoy this musical masterpiece. The material is not what listeners are used to hearing him perform in his famous role as sideman to legendary groups such as Widespread Panic, the Allman Brothers, or The Dead, but Herring shreds nonetheless, showcasing a diverse and appetizing musical palette that has helped him earn his reputation as one of the world’s foremost masters of the electric guitar.
Lifeboat is out now on Abstract Logix Records.