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Live Review: Double Vision Revisited at the Birchmere in Virginia

Bob James, David Sanborn and Marcus Miller reunite for tour revisiting their seminal contemporary jazz album Double Vision

Bob James, David Sanborn and Marcus Miller performing the music of "Double Vision" (photo by Jon Gitchoff c/o ECP)
Bob James, David Sanborn and Marcus Miller performing the music of “Double Vision” (photo: Jon Gitchoff c/o ECP)

The trend for a band to revisit a particularly successful album from its past seemed to have started with the curators of the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival who asked hip hop and alternative rock artists to perform one of their older albums from start to finish. The phenomenon soon spread to the 60s and 70s generation of rock bands, who found that nostalgic fans were clamoring for them to return to touchstone Classic Rock recordings. It eventually caught on in the jazz world, though it was often younger bands paying tribute to classic discs from jazz legends like Miles or Trane, the original leaders having long since passed. In some cases, bands would do the album in exact order, and for those raised in the vinyl era, you could almost hear the crowd sing or hum the next song, cued involuntarily by a lifetime of playing the album from start to finish. The song order was hard-wired.

For their Aug. 19 performance at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, featuring the music from their seminal jazz fusion album Double Vision, Bob James and David Sanborn (with Marcus Miller) chose to mix it up and even include two tunes that James had either written or arranged. Their group, which also includes drummer Billy Kilson and vocalist Larry Braggs (taking the place of Steve Gadd and the late Al Jarreau from the original recording), is in the midst of a 20-city tour with nearly every date sold out and attended by adoring fans almost entirely of a certain age. That is, old enough to have initially heard the album on a turntable.

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