November 2008

Experience Hendrix
Experience Hendrix/Image Entertainment EXP3918DVD
Format: DVD
Released: 2008

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***1/2
Image Quality ***1/2
Overall Enjoyment ***1/2

Jimi Hendrix remains a touchstone for rock guitar, even more than 35 years after his death. It isn’t surprising, therefore, that a tribute organized by the guitarist’s family would attract a few hotshot guitarists. What is reassuring is how some of the guitarists on this DVD have absorbed his lessons and created their own voices. Experience Hendrix is composed of performances in 2002 in Seattle and San Diego and features Kenny Wayne Shepard, Indigenous, Living Colour, and a number of other artists interpreting songs written or popularized by one of the true geniuses of rock.

Shepard opens the DVD with "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)," and he lights up the stage with a fiery solo that evokes the master while moving into its own territory. He tackles "I Don’t Live Today," a brave move indeed, and pulls it off with aplomb. Mato Nanje, the guitarist for Indigenous, takes a lengthy solo during "Hear My Train A Comin’" that shows plenty of speed and dexterity without running out of ideas or dissolving into self-indulgence. Hubert Sumlin, the great guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf, meets Jimmy D. Lane for a summit that connects Hendrix’s influences with a generation of guitarists he inspired. Living Colour turns in two fine performances. Vernon Reid’s playing is somewhat hectic, but the band as a unit has a great feeling for what makes "Power of Soul" and "Cross Town Traffic" tick.

Not everything works on Experience Hendrix. Paul Rodgers is in good voice on "Stone Free," and it’s good to see Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox behind him, but the guitarists can’t seem to get out of their own way. I also could have done without Kenny Wayne Shepard’s singer, Noah Hunt. The two-channel sound is not too compressed, and the filming is as straightforward as most of the performances.