Sometimes a band gets together, and it’s like a match made in heaven. When Keller Williams recruited Keith Moseley (String Cheese Incident), Jeff Sipe (ARU, Leftover Salmon), and Gibb Droll (Gibb Droll Band, Marc Broussard) to create a new "supergroup," it was one of those matches. Their new double-disc/DVD set Live shows the fruits of their partnership.
From the opening jazzy riffs of "Same Ole’," it’s clear that this is an act who has gelled, and did so fast. Keller’s put together a great band who exemplify what a jamband is supposed to be at heart – all are masters of their instruments, and the fun, exploratory nature of the songs ties it all together.
Live is dominated by Keller’s back catalog; they dip back to nearly all of his albums to pull choice pieces – from Freek’s "Juggler" to Buzz’s "Killer Waves," the band takes on the history of Keller Williams, putting their own touch on his tunes while keeping the integrity of his original arrangements. Keller’s no stranger to fronting a group despite his one-man-band stage show; after all, Breathe was recorded with String Cheese Incident. However, this is his baby, and he’s really succesful at fronting his team.
Speaking of his team, while Keller may have his name at the front of the group, a front man is only as good as his supporting cast, if you can call them that. Jeff Sipe’s name is obviously well known and respected, and he may be the true all-star here, as frankly there are few drummers who are is his league. Moseley’s rock-solid as always. Gibb Droll, though, is the un-sung hero and really the guy who has the most to gain from this whole musical journey. He’s always been an underrated guitar player, and now he’s getting proper exposure. His playing is stellar across the board, from his acoustic picking on his composition "Reinhardt Rag" to his clean, rapid-fire soloing on "Casa Quetzal."
It’s fitting that the double-album closes with Dream‘s "Play This," a frenetic, fast-paced rocker that closes the disc with force. Without Dream, Keller may never have had the impetus to put a band together, and frankly, we’re glad he did.
And then, there’s the DVD. Culled directly from the video feed that projects onto the screens on stage during a performance, it gives the fan the experience that they’re right there. The camera work is decent, but not great – however, this isn’t a professionally-shot DVD with multiple camera rigs and booms, so it’s not meant to be perfect, studio-quality output. It is what it is.
The tracks are different than the ones on the CD, which is nice. It’s a little more cover-heavy; there’s the "Gallivanting > The Other One > Gallivanting" segment, and a solid take on "No Sugar Tonight/New Mother Nature." The "Little Wing" is nice, and the "A Natural Woman" stuck in the midst of "Bob Rules" is hillariously solid.
Overall, this is a must for Keller fans, and for those jamband fans looking to get off on extended guitar solos and ridiculous drum work are definitely going to want to take a close look.
Live is out now on SCI Fidelity Records