Wynton Marsalis' soundtrack to Ken Burns' new [Jack Johnson] PBS documentary straightforwardly evokes Johnson and his times through styles of the era. Fair enough. But 34 years before, [MILES DAVIS] attempted nothing less than a re-creation of the Johnson legend for the Black Power generation. And he did it on two long tracks containing some of the most powerful and influential jazz-rock ever played.
It was Miles' deep identification with Johnson - Davis was a musician who sometimes boxed, Johnson a boxer who sometimes played, and both were prideful black renegades who refused to kowtow to white convention - that inspired him to take some of the longest, hottest and nakedly emotional solos of his career. And if this was one of the last truly great albums he ever would make, Davis still managed to one-up Johnson in the end: He went out on his feet. Download: "Right Off." - K.R.C.
True, [BRANDON TARRICONE] is a killer guitarist who's pulled together an impressive lineup of fellow travelers (including Boston Horns baritone Henley Douglas Jr.) and guests. Although the songs are more concise and the playing tighter than in your average jam band, BOG remains a New Orleans funk band for beginners. Those with a taste for stronger stuff should proceed directly to the Meters. Download: "Uptown." (Jan. 27 at Ryles, Cambridge.) - K.R.C.