First Stop, Pakistan, by Katherine R. Dougan | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

First Stop, Pakistan, by Katherine R. Dougan

The Derek Trucks Band brings its multicultural sounds and "joyful noise" to Hal & Mal's Halloween night.

To a world filled with ethnic and religious distrust, Derek Trucks, a bottleneck slide master and musical veteran at age 23, offers a cast of diverse vocalists and covers an extraordinary range of musical genres on his new multicultural album, "Joyful Noise." Trucks' influences—from Eastern Indian sarod master Ali Akbar Khan to Duane Allman—are all present on this eclectic album. "Joyful Noise" is a celebration of music. "All the tunes are of a joyful nature," Trucks, a Jacksonville, Fla., native, said during a phone interview from Omaha, Neb. "The Pakistani tune is a very religious tune, and the Latin tune is an old Latin religious music song."

Working with a major label, Columbia, for the first time was a blessing, Trucks said. "We had all the options at our disposal. We didn't spend too much extra time, but we were able to do different things," he said. One of those extras was getting soul legend Solomon Burke to provide lead vocals for a couple of cuts.

Burke wails in his inimitable style on "Home In Your Heart" and "Like Anyone Else." The Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer has an amazing set of pipes, and he unleashes them on "Home In Your Heart." Trucks' stunning slide work perfectly balances and complements Burke's vocals on this R&B classic penned by Winfield Scott and Otis Blackwell. And "Like Anyone Else" features Burke at his crooning finest, offering a perfect mix with Trucks' wailing slide guitar leads.

What was it like to record with the legendary Burke? "After Solomon sang one of the tunes, half the people in the control room were in tears. He was holding court," Trucks said.

Another perk Columbia afforded was the ability to get Pakistani Qawwli singer Rahet Fateh Ali Kahn to record vocals on "Maki Madni," an eight-minute track that Trucks said was the "heaviest" experience of the recording process. For this cut, the band recorded tracks, then sent to the tape to Rahet in Pakistan, who laid down the vocal.

"So Close, So Far," is an instrumental in the Southern Rock, Allman Brothers style, a musical influence that is not surprising; Trucks (who was performing when he was 9 years old) is the nephew of longtime Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks. Derek Trucks now performs with the Allman Brothers band, in addition to touring with the Derek Trucks Band. He estimates that, between the two bands, he performs about 250 to 300 shows per year.

Other cuts on the album include such jewels as Susan Tedeschi's (Derek Trucks' wife) rich blues/rock vocals on "Baby, You're Right," a Joe Tex tune that James Brown brought to the forefront in 1962. "Lookout 81" offers instrumental jazz in its purest form. Every musician's talent is showcased on this cut, which was written by Trucks band member and Pakistan native Kofi Burbridge.

Trucks said it is no telling what folks in Jackson can expect at their Oct. 31 show at Hal & Mal's (200 S. Commerce St., 948-0888). If the CD is an indication, Jackson music aficionados can expect a wealth of joyful noise in a variety of musical and cultural languages on Halloween night. The music is perfect and tight — and offers something to whet all types of musical palates.
Katherine R. Dougan is a musician and freelance writer living in Jackson.

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