John Mayall just keeps rolling along. Now in his early 80’s, he maintains an extensive concert and recording schedule.
Mayall’s new live album, Three For The Road, began two years ago when guitarist Rocky Athas missed a concert due to plane connections. Forced to play as a trio, John Mayall decided to continue within that context. His new album was recorded at two concerts in Germany during March of 2017.
Bassist Greg Rzab and drummer Jay Davenport have been with Mayall for a decade and their chemistry together is excellent. Mayall, vocals, keyboards, and harmonica, is more in the limelight than he has been in years. His music has always had a guitar focus but now his keyboards are central and it is a new and welcome direction for an artist whose career has passed the 50 year mark.
The nine tracks include 7 covers by classic blues artists and two original Mayall concert favorites. They all run from 5 to 11 minutes, so their is a lot of room for experimentation and improvisation.
Mayall’s “Streamline” and “Lonely Feelings” have been concert staples for some time but here they take on new textures within the trio format. “Congo Square” at 11 minutes and “Tears Came Rollin’ Down” at nine plus minutes are excellent examples of how three instruments can interact over an extended period of time.
Mayall’s voice may have lost a little over time but it is still an effective blues instrument.
John Mayall is travelling a different road in the twilight of his career, which is not an easy thing for a veteran artist. Three For The Road is an album well-worth exploring.