Saturday, March 18, 2006

Jazz Is Dead

From North

A note-for-note tribute would seem un-Dead

WHO: Jazz Is Dead.
WHAT: Classic rock.
WHEN: 8 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 W. 42nd St., Manhattan; (212) 997-4555 or bbkingblues .com.

HOW MUCH: $20 advance, $22 day of show.

Never call Jazz Is Dead a cover band, or you'll receive a tongue-lashing from guitarist Jeff Pevar. Sure, the group delivers versions of Grateful Dead songs. However, the band usually turns Dead tunes inside out.

"To label us a tribute band isn't accurate," Pevar said. "What we are is an interpretive band. We take these wonderful compositions and make them into something completely different."
It's not uncommon to find the quirky act turning a Dead shuffle into a reggae tune or rendering a country-rock track into a jazzy jam. "It's more interesting this way," Pevar said. "I don't see the point in replicating the songs like these Dead cover bands do. These songs are made to be interpreted. It's fun for us and the audience."

Jazz Is Dead, which will perform Sunday at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, is on a jaunt that tips its cap to the Dead's "Blues for Allah" album. The 30-year-old release is one of the legendary band's trippiest, most complex projects. "Blues for Allah" has always been one of my favorite Dead albums," Pevar said. "We're going to do one set of 'Blues for Allah' tracks. The next set will feature other Dead material."

Drummer Rod Morganstein will accompany the group on the "Blues for Allah" material; Jeff Sipe will keep time for the balance of the show.

But it never really matters who's part of Jazz Is Dead. "The most important thing for this band is that it is playing," Pevar said. "I liken playing in this band to sitting around a poker table. The game is still going on. It goes on no matter who shows up."

Jazz Is Dead, which includes keyboardist T. Lavitz, bassist Dave Livolsi and keyboardist Tom Constanten, plans to record an album in the spring.


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