VOICES Notes and news on New Releases
22 OCT 12 DAVID SHANNON
Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders played 266 concerts together between December 1, 1970 and December 31, 1974 and with the exception of a few dozen dates in places like New York and New Jersey, most of the shows took place in Berkeley, California at a legendary jazz club called the Keystone Korner. Commemorating the year of what would be Garcia's 70th birthday, Fantasy has released a live four-disc set, Keystone Companions: The Complete 1973 Fantasy Recordings, recorded at the Keystone on July 10 and 11 of that year.
In its day the Keystone hosted legends such as Miles Davis, Bill Evans and Art Blakey, although it had become something of a performance refuge for jazz players in the late-'60s and early-'70s as most of the clubs in the area shifted to more popular rock acts. Yet Garcia and Saunders' predisposition towards long, improvisational jams made the Keystone a fitting venue for two of the Bay Area's favorite sons.
Aside from the slew of extras in the package, including a poster, booklet, button, liner notes from Dead expert David Gans, and more, the discs themselves contain seven unreleased tracks from the shows. And beyond the original tunes, a heap of covers gets the Garcia/Saunders treatment on this release, including a psychedelic "My Funny Valentine," a funky "The Harder They Come," a beautiful translation of Dylan's "Positively 4th Street," and two distinct takes on his classic "Someday Baby."