Yes, He Can!
Yes, He Can! (2)

52 Guitars: Week 7 sums up Jeff Beck's relative obscurity nicely:

While he was as innovative as Jimmy Page, as tasteful as Eric Clapton, and nearly as visionary as Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck never achieved the same commercial success as any of those contemporaries, primarily because of the haphazard way he approached his career. After Rod Stewart left the Jeff Beck Group in 1971, Beck never worked with a charismatic lead singer who could have helped sell his music to a wide audience. Furthermore, he was simply too idiosyncratic, moving from heavy metal to jazz fusion within a blink of an eye.  All the while, Beck retained the respect of fellow guitarists....

"Respect" is an understatement, I think.

What little I heard of his brilliant playing over the years was in musical settings that didn't greatly appeal to me, like the jazz-rock fusion of Blow by Blow. But while digging around for material for this post, I found an embarrassment of riches, especially in live performances. There's a live disk called Live at Ronnie Scott's which I think I'll get. I'm not sure whether this clip is exactly the same performance as the one on the CD, but both are knockouts. "Goodbye Pork-Pie Hat," as you may know, is Charles Mingus's elegy for Lester Young.


The baby-faced bassist is the prodigy Tal Wilkenfeld, who was somewhere around 21 years old at the time of this performance. I would have guessed 15.

Here's a fairly recent live version of one of the better tracks from Blow by Blow, "Freeway Jam." I assume it's roughly contemporary with the Ronnie Scott performance, since Tal Wilkenfeld is with him; she seems to have been in his band off and on in the latter part of the last decade.


The funny thing about Jeff Beck is that he looks pretty much the same as he did in 1966. I seriously doubt whether that's his real hair. 


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