Sunday, June 12, 2011

Review: Brian Wilson at the Highline Ballroom,

By Jim Bessman

Brian Wilson played the Highline Ballroom last night as part of its sister club's month-long Blue Note Jazz Festival, and though the two-set show featured his entire current Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin album of Gershwin standards, it wasn't jazz, really, but no less demanding--and rewarding.

The Beach Boys' beloved creative genius brought a 12-piece band of multi-instrumentalists/vocalists--and a local female string section--and all lived up to his contention that it's one of his best bands ever.

The Gershwin album, which was conceived under the aegis of his hero George Gershwin's estate, led off the second set--the first being a breathtaking recreation of Beach Boys classics ranging from the ultra-romantic 1963 ballad "Surfer Girl," his first composition, to the symphonic "Heroes And Villains" of 1967. While Wilson's ability to sing his signature falsetto vocal leads and harmonies is long gone, guitarist Jeff Foskett was downright spooky in mimicking it on hits like "Don't Worry Baby" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice."

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