Les Paul played at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club every Monday night for 14 years before he died at the age of 94, so it’s only fitting that Jeff Beck and friends chose that venue to honor the late guitar pioneer. Documented on Rock ‘n’ Roll Party (and its companion DVD with seven extra songs), the concert finds Beck joining forces with the Imelda May Band for a show that’s equal parts Paul standards and early rock songs that bear links to Paul’s towering influence. May and her band appeared with Beck on the 2010 Grammy Awards for a rendition of the Les Paul/Mary Ford standard “How High the Moon”, and their familiarity with the material pays dividends on Paul/Ford classics like “The World is Waiting for the Sunrise”, “Vaya Con Dios”, and “Bye Bye Blues”. Beck’s playing, of course, is fantastic, and he honors Paul’s clean, liquid tone on the Paul covers. He saves the rock vibe for tracks like “The Train Kept a Rollin’” (a nice synthesis of Yardbirds and Johnny Burnette Trio), “Peter Gunn” (with Trombone Shorty), “Twenty Flight Rock” (with Brian Setzer), and a ferocious “Walking in the Sand”. It was obviously an electric evening and that certainly comes across on this disc. It’s a fair bet that Paul would have enjoyed this tribute from one of his favorite proteges.
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// Notes from the Road
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