In 1994 Gov’t Mule was formed as a side project by Allman Brothers Band members Warren Haynes, guitar; and Allen Woody, bass. Joining them was Matt Abts who had formerly played drums in The Dickey Betts Band. Gov’t Mule has ten studio albums and numerous live recordings. Currently they are celebrating their 20th Anniversary and so they decided to release several live archival performances to honor the occasion. At the time of these performances Gov’t Mule had begun writing and recording jazz-influenced instrumentals but hadn’t yet
performed them live. In September of 1999 at the Georgia Theatre in Atlanta, after completing their normal hard-rocking first set, the Mule were joined by John Scofield, the acclaimed jazz-rock guitarist and composer who played with everyone from Miles Davis to Jaco Pastorius, and keyboardist Dr. Dan Matrazzo. These were the Mule’s first ever all instrumental sets. Both nights were recorded but Woody passed away in 2000 and so these concerts were never released. This two cd set finally documents this occasion.
By looking at the song selection we can see where these artists were at the time of these performances. The first cd opens with “Hottentot” composed by Scofield. It first appeared on Scofield’s 1998 “A Go Go” album released on Verve Records.
“Tom Thumb” was written and recorded by Wayne Shorter in 1967. It appears on his Blue Note recording “Schizophrenia”. “Haynes undertakes the, James Spaulding, alto sax role on his guitar, stating one facet of the melody, as Scofield takes care of the complementing part and they wrap up the theme in unison”. After Matrazzo’s organ solo, Scofield and Haynes take their respective solos and they end in a wild exchange.
“Doing It to Death” is from James Brown and included in the 1991 Polydor issued “Star Time”. It’s Scofield who is working the wah-wah pedal. “Birth of The Mule” was written by Haynes, Woody, and Abts and originally appeared on Mule’s “Dose” released in 1998. Allen’s bass is impressive. The funky “Sco-Mule” is credited to Scofield and Haynes and sounds spontaneous. “Kind of Bird” is from a 1991 recording by The Allman Brothers written by Dickie Betts and Haynes. This southern boogie reaches new heights.
The second disc opens with “Pass The Peas” also from James Brown. “Devil Likes It Slow” was written by Haynes and included on their “Live…With a Little Help from Our Friends” released just six months prior to this concert. Alternative takes of “Hottentot” and “Kind of Bird” are included from the second night. They close with “Afro-Blue” inspired by John Coltrane’s rendition of the Mongo Santamaria composition.
Haynes’ vision for this project was to extend the Mule’s music beyond rock into the world of jazz. By adding a master like Sco that vision was realized. It took fifteen years for this to be released but we finally have it. This is a must have recording for every jazz rock or jam band fan.