Experience Hendrix (2007)
Studio: Image Entertainment EXP3918DVD
Video: 16:9 widescreen
Audio: DD Stereo
Extras: Bonus Tracks
Length: 99 minutes
When James “Al” Hendrix formed Experience Hendrix in 1995, it was not only to preserve his famous son’s recorded legacy, but to engender a continuing appreciation for the music Jimi Hendrix loved and played among a new generation of musicians and fans alike. What started as a one-off concert years ago in Jimi’s native Seattle grew into a regular series of events and most recently, a national tour, and this DVD from Image Entertainment documents the performances (I’m assuming) from San Diego and Seattle, although I haven’t been able to establish exactly when these concerts took place. The otherwise excellent liner notes are a little short on those details. The shows include a veritable who’s who of artists who either: played with Jimi, are currently playing music that promotes his style, or in the case of blues legends Buddy Guy and Hubert Sumlin, were among Jimi’s very favorite guitarists and heavy influences on his inimitable style.
This disc contains an almost non-stop reel of highlights, but there were definite moments that stood out for me. All of the songs that featured young guitar phenom Kenny Wayne Shepherd were a total blast, and he’s paired with both Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton of the late, great Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble. Tommy Shannon had actually befriended Hendrix back in the day, and had loaned him his bass guitar on one occasion so Jimi could jam with Johnny Winter! I was also mightily impressed with the Native American group Indigenous, who offered a truly idiomatic performance of the classic “Hear My Train A Comin’.” On one of the disc’s bonus tracks, Indigenous is joined by former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor, who also jammed with Hendrix while he was a member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers; Taylor’s guitar work on “Red House” is nothing short of phenomenal. Living Colour also gives a standout performance of “Power Of Soul,” which features a searing guitar solo from Vernon Reid. There’s also an encore from the entire ensemble, which is a mind-blowing rendition of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” from an assemblage that features Paul Rodgers, Buddy Guy, Vernon Reid, Jerry Cantrell, Eric Gales, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell, among others.
The image quality of the disc is a little variable; while the color and contrast are generally quite good, the sharpness of the image does waver a bit throughout. I didn’t really find it all that egregious, however, and it did very little to diminish my appreciation of the uniformly excellent performances. I was, however, a little surprised when I toggled through the audio options to find that the Dolby Digital Stereo track was the only thing available, especially on a disc of this recent vintage which otherwise had so much TLC applied to it. Once I’d gotten beyond the lack of surround sound, though, the sound quality was excellent, if perhaps not the final word in available technology.
This disc is a real treat, for fans of Hendrix, rock and blues music and fans of any of the multitude of young and established artists that appear here. Apparently, from what I’ve gathered over the Internet, a U.S. tour for Experience Hendrix is currently underway, and features another hot young gun, blues guitarist Jonny Lang, prominently in the mix. That would probably be well worth checking out, as is this excellent disc (which would have gotten four stars, except for the lack of audio options). Highly recommended.
TrackList: Come On; Voodoo Chile; I Don’t Live Today; Hear My Train A Comin’; Power Of Soul; Crosstown Traffic; Purple Haze; Bleeding Heart; Killing Floor; Freedom; Stone Free; Hoochie Coochie Man; Five Long Years; Voodoo Child (Slight Return); Red House; Foxey Lady.
— Tom Gibbs