Hooteroll? is the Jerry Garcia & Howard Wales rerelease of experimental instrumental music. Using a seven-piece band, and implementing organs, sax, trumpet, along with the rock standards of guitars, bass, and drums, kaleidoscopic musical waves and journeys are created among the musicians, making a very diverse and jam-filled record.
"Morning in Marin" starts off the record in a driving, jazzy mode, with guitars and sax going off into distinct solos, sometimes almost teetering on a fusion-type of style. It definitely sounds heavily jazz-influenced.
The next track is a quick and soft piece, with the flute and piano heading the song. A loud, deadpan bass, with succinct guitar strumming, and gliding electric guitar slides create a laid-back, mellow tone. And just as quickly as it starts, it ends, with a dog barking off into the distance, leading into the next song.
"South Side Strut" adds more horns, and swirling organ chords, with a wah-wah guitar in the background. The driving organ chords become quicker and more halting, with the wah guitar soloing off into a Motown-like horn line, complete with fills between solo breaks and melody changes. This is definitely the best track on the album: it encompasses every musician's virtuosity and willingness to make the band become one rather than individual players.
Judging from the musical compositions and the song titles themselves; a certain theme can be ascertained. With titles like "DC-502," and "One A.M. Approach," a theme of someone traveling and staying in some far off, dreamy destination for a day. The smooth and soft sounds, mixed with some driving beats and quick tempos make this a free-flowing, natural-sounding record. Even when "DC-502" hints back on an earlier theme played in a previous song, it takes the overall tone of the music to a different plane without losing the focus of the song itself.
With "One A.M. Approach," Wales and Garcia trade tinkling lines as one noodles with a single-string melody and the other plays long, soft notes, creating a very laid-back, soothing song. Then it goes right into "Uncle Martin's," another jazzy, yet funky, song that highlights the organ work of Wales, with Garcia creating fantastic wah-wah backgrounds. It ends with Garcia soloing, and just as if the song is starting to pick up, it ends, leading right into the more classical sounding "Evening in Marin." The acoustic guitar is more prominent at some points, and the song lilts into a very spacey, subdued melody, sounding as if there was a hint of a drizzle in the air.
This record is Garcia's first non-Dead work. Taking some time to jam with Howard Wales in a club in San Francisco, these songs came out of the session. It shows the early era Dead influence, yet incorporates the years of experience accrued by Garcia playing, as well as the other musicians' influences -- some very unique music is created in this session, and lets the listener see how Garcia could branch out to other musicians to try and do something different, more experimental, more off-the-cuff, more spontaneous.
This record definitely displays Jerry Garcia's mastery of the electric guitar, and Howard Wales' tricky keyboard work. Without losing a certain continuity, each song stands out on its own as straight-up, good improvisation. They never stall or get one lost when listening: it holds your attention, and lets you in on the musical journey being played.. Hooteroll? is a very tight record, yet leaves room to stretch.
Tom Fraher is a Contributing Writer. Contact him at email@example.com.