Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Southern-fried Tuneage: Jazz fusion, Dixie style

Southern boys can do jazz fusion.  Man, can they ever do jazz fusion.

A breathtaking fusion outfit originated out of Augusta, Georgia, back in the early 1970s, starting with a guitar player named Steve Morse and a guy on bass named Andy West.  At first, they were in a band called Dixie Grit.  From there, they became a duo known as The Dixie Dregs.

The band continued to evolve.  Allen Sloan jumped in on violin.  At the band's peak, it also featured T Lavitz on keys and Rod Morgenstein on drums.  Later, after Sloan left to pursue a career as a doctor, Nashville session cat Mark O'Connor took over on violin, followed at times by Mahavishnu Orchestra veteran Jerry Goodman.

They were a blend of jazz, Southern rock, classical, and some mighty fine hoedown sounds.  These guys could do it all.  Morse became known as one of the best guitar players alive today, settling in to the all-important guitarist's spot with rock legends Deep Purple and reigniting a flame in them.

The fire started down in Dixie.

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