There's no string section accompanying Jeff Beck and his band on Live and Exclusive from the Grammy Museum, but there's no lack of symphonic majesty during the course of the mini album. Quite the contrary, there's more than a little, in addition to which there's increasing evidence of the ex-Yardbird guitarist's evolving fondness for melody to contrast the raucous likes of "Hammerhead."
The Beatles "A Day in the Life" summarizes the virtues of this performance. Jeff Beck is able to grasp the nuances in the singing voices of both Lennon and McCartney, not to mention the contrast in the sections of the composition they authored, and Beck nails the spiraling crescendos as authoritatively as he holds that famous last note.
The famously idiosyncratic guitarist doesn't do it alone here, in large measure because the rhythm section reflects their leader's fine touch. On "Brush with the Blues," Narada Michael Walden softly and appropriately strokes both drums and cymbals while bassist Rhonda Smith demonstrates an equally delicate approach to her bass guitar figures.
But it's keyboardist Jason Rebello who acquits himself almost as stylishly as Beck himself. The synthesized strings on "Corpus Christi Carol" have a warmth such sounds usually lack, while a mix of piano and organ on "Over the Rainbow" (yes, that one!) expand the scope of the quartet's sound dramatically. And on "People Get Ready," Beck's long-time collaborator helps furnish a perfectly unobtrusive setting for Jeff to demonstrate his love/hate relationship with his guitar, albeit in a most understated fashion.
Live and Exclusive From the Grammy Museum isn't without its blemishes however. The guitar is lost in waves of faux strings on "Nessun Dorma" and "How High the Moon" is pure novelty. Nevertheless, because it isn't plagued with the misconceived production that plagued the Emotion and Commotion, this half-hour plus recording of Jeff Beck's is preferable to that studio album released earlier this year.