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Monday, October 19, 2015

John Wetton and the Les Paul Trio - New York Minute

John Wetton, is a name you can’t forget. His work with Family, Mogul Thrash, King Crimson, U.K., and Asia to name a few, he has been around in the music industry from day one. Not to mention his work as a solo artist also which will be talked about later on with his 2-CD set, The Studio Recordings Anthology: Volume 1. But let’s get to the live album. This was recorded on October 14th 2013 at the jazz club, The Iridium in which it was home to the late great Les Paul. And listening to this live performance entitled, New York Minute, shows Wetton at his best.

The reason he is performing at the Iridium is raising awareness on prostate and testicular cancer. Alongside John Wetton, the Les Paul trio considers Nikki Parrott on Bass, Rodney Holmes on Piano, and Lou Pallo on Guitar. Listening to these covers along with his work on Asia and one of his compositions from his solo-era, you can imagine yourself being at the club and showing love and support of not just as an artist, but a man who can at times nail these songs in a laid-back and jazzier groove.

The up-tempo moderately take of The Beatles Lady Madonna, shows Rodney his chops very well on the piano to get into the soul-like groove and Wetton nails it well on the vocals, but the vocal harmonies on the “ba-ba-ba-baaa” line, didn’t capture my momentum. It dragged a little bit in the vocalizations in that midsection, but it is a fine take.

Steely Dan’s Do It Again in which it opens the set, brings Holmes to a powder punch on here as Wetton sings amazingly to take it out of the park with a chugging guitar line to go with it. But it is the beautiful take of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On that brings a lukewarm touch to Wetton’s soul-like voice. Lou Pallo brings the power of Wes Montgomery and George Benson on his rhythm and not to mention the background vocals by Nikki Parrott and it is such an uplifting cover that will make your heart melt.

Wetton can nail the harmonies on his vocalizations on the Beach Boys God Only Knows. Nikki and Rodney help out with the ballad-like warmth and relaxing take of the song that shows John’s roots in his musical background. I love the mid-funk driven tempo of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower in which Lou brings a chugging rhythm to the beat and Rodney capturing the drama through his playing.

The ballad comes right back into the swing with a romantic touch of Asia’s Heat of the Moment as you can imagine the audience being moved by this rendition of the classic hit that shows his softer side and the closer, Battle Lines, it has a folkier sound in the acoustical touch on his composition. It is a perfect way to end the live album off with a warm applause to say farewell as before the fade-out you can tell they wanted more of him to sing.

I have to admit, I’m not that crazy on John Wetton’s solo career, but this live album shows me how much appreciation I have for him. While he is under chemotherapy back in August of this year, it shows he will fight it and continue hopefully, to make more music. New York Minute is not a bad live album. Some hits, some misses, but John nails it down well. 

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