Steve Lukather & Edgar Winter – Live at North Sea Jazz Festival 2000 | Album Review

Steve Lukather & Edgar Winter – Live at North Sea Jazz Festival 2000

String Commander/MIG Music

8 songs – 66 minutes

Matching playing styles that infuse blues, rock and jazz, Steve Lukather and Edgar Winter fit like hand and glove when they toured together in 2000, and their performance gets to live once more through this release from MIG, the German label whose catalog contains a treasure trove of performances captured across Europe dating back to the mid-‘70s.

Available as a CD/DVD boxed set, the extended jams here were laid down at Statenhal auditorium in The Hague, Netherlands, on July 14, 2000, in front of an adoring crowd at the North Sea Jazz Festival while embarked on what they labeled their “Odd Couple Tour.” It was an interesting pairing in many ways.

A prolific studio musician and producer, Lukather’s a California native who was a guitarist who was influenced by Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton, but was best known for his work with Toto, the progressive rock band he founded four years earlier, and through his interest in jazz fusion. And Texan Edgar – a multi-instrumentalist who played keys, sax and timbales on this disc – had established himself as one of the biggest names in blues-rock with such hits as “Free Ride” and “Frankenstein” earlier in the decade, but also infused jazz into his sets, too.

There two worlds collided as they traded vocal and instrumental leads with backing from a rhythm section composed of bassist Phil Soussan (Billy Idol, Johnny Halliday) and percussionist Gary Ferguson (Gary Moore, Eddie Money). The music they produce together is a symbiosis of musical stylings, but the blues shines through most of all.

A blazing four-four beat kicks off Lukather’s jazz fusion number, “Smell Yourself,” with Edgar laying down rapid-fire horn runs that begin trading space with Steve’s intense guitar lines soon after, and the power of his delivery reduces somewhat as the song settles down after a brief stop-time break. The blues kick in to stay for the Winter original, “Texas,” a medium-paced shuffle with deep bottom that gives Lukather to display his chops as Edgar comps on keys.

Edgar opens Lukather’s “Song for Jeff” – a teary tribute to Toto bassist Jeff Porcaro who had succumbed to a heart attack in 1992 – with a brief keyboard instrumental before Lukather soars with deep, unhurried single-note guitar runs for more than six minutes as he releases his pain. The six-string pyrotechnics continue in “Redhouse,” an obvious reworking of the Jimi Hendrix classic, but the liner notes give the headliners writing credit.

Jazz and gospel kick in as Edgar revisits his White Trash days to cover that band’s monster hit, “Fly Away,” before he and Steve join forces for a six-minute medley that combines Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” with Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.” A 13-minute version of John D. Loudermilk’s familiar blues, “Tobacco Road” – which incorporates a bit of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout” at the end — follows before a 16-minute take on Winter’s “Frankenstein” — with a brief interlude of Henry Mancini’s “Pink Panther Theme” — brings the set to a close.

Blues fans should enjoy this CD. It’s a great example of true BLUES-rock – emphasizing the former, but incorporating the latter – the way it used to be.

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