Grateful Dead, Branford Marsalis
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum - Uniondale, NY
Picture?width=180&height=180 kovach Grateful Dead w/ Branford Marsalis at Nassau Coliseum
Great piece on Branford's first show with the dead. I was lucky enough to catch this three night Nassau run while I was still in High School, and Brandford sat in for the whole second set of the middle show (3/29). Up to this point I was a big dead fan, but the seamless set of improv they laid down in that second set absolutely blew my mind on a complete new level, and I was on the bus forever after that.
It sounded to my fairly naive ears like they'd been practicing with Branford for weeks, so I was thrilled to learn -- through this article -- that Branford showed up that night not knowing a single Grateful Dead song, and nobody in the band knew who he was except Phil. But from those first notes of Birdsong he and Jerry locked in and played off each other like the virtuosos that they are for the rest of the night. I don't think I ever saw Jerry smile so much during a show.
I still listen to this show all the time and it never gets old. Here's the official GD SBD release from Spotify:
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Wow, just wow on this. "I was thrilled to learn -- through this article -- that Branford showed up that night not knowing a single Grateful Dead song,". I've had "actor nightmare' type dreams like that but for it to really happen. Gotta listen. Thanks.

He starts on the birdsong at the end of first set then plays the whole second set. The eyes>estimated>dark star to open the second set is simply sublime.

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it's really crazy that he didn't know any songs going into this

I just became a Branford fan reading that. Right there.