by W. Kim Heron
As Miles Davis did when his fusion sound was new, the original Tony Williams and Lifetime left audiences more confused than elated circa 1969. Unlike his erstwhile employer's group, though, Williams' outfit fizzled before it caught on, and Lifetime's amped-up (and sometimes spaced-out) drums-organ-guitar format became the stuff of legend rather than lucre. Years later, Williams who went on to considerable success leading both fusion and acoustic groups wanted to revive the Lifetime format, but passed away in 1997 at the age of 51, leaving the plan unrealized.
Enter Trio Beyond with guitarist John Scofield, drummer Jack DeJohnette and Larry Goldings, the intended keyboardist for Williams' revival. Trio Beyond is a tribute to Williams and the original group, emulating Lifetime's sometimes pummeling force and cliff-hanger dynamics while playing from and adding to the Lifetime songbook. Yet the individual members each sound so different from the originals (the guitarist was John McLaughlin; the organist was the late Larry Young; and DeJohnette is like thunder to Williams' lightning) that the results can't be otherwise. And brilliantly so. It's a double CD, recorded live.
W. Kim Heron is the editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.