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Jorma Kaukonen

Ain't in No Hurry – 2015 (Red House)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Jorma Kaukonen

Although Jorma Kaukonen will forever be bound to the enormous legacy of Jefferson Airplane, it's important to remember the gifted guitarist's tenure in the band was a mere seven years. He and bassist Jack Casady exceeded that total with Hot Tuna - which they'd started two years before leaving the Airplane - by 1978 when they released the live "Double Dose" album.

But perhaps the most important year in Kaukonen's history is 1974, when he launched his solo career with the indescribably wonderful "Quah." Kaukonen's debut album under his own name was the first legitimate exploration of his traditional blues, folk and bluegrass roots, with covers of Reverend Gary Davis and Blind Arthur Blake nestled among Kaukonen originals that bore the unmistakable evidence of their influence and his own boundless musical invention.

While Hot Tuna has waxed and waned over the years, Kaukonen has maintained his solo presence for a consistent and amazing 41 years. He has devoted whole albums to his love of bluegrass, folk and gospel in his later years, but his latest solo volley may be the nearest he's come to matching the quiet brilliance of his debut.

"Ain't in No Hurry" also presents a potent mix of well chosen covers (the Depression Era standards "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" and "Brother Can You Spare a Dime," a musical reimagining of Woody Guthrie's "Suffer the Little Children to Come Unto Me," the Carter Family's "Sweet Fern") and Kaukonen's gorgeous originals.

It's Kaukonen's self-penned compositions that provide some of the most powerful moments; there is so much authenticity and timeless resonance in songs like the lilting "In My Dreams," the jaunty "The Other Side of the Mountain" and the loping title track, listeners will be constantly checking the writing credits to assure themselves it isn't some lost classic from bygone days. Kaukonen even reinvents the crackling electric magnificence of Hot Tuna's "Bar Room Crystal Ball" as a compelling acoustic country ballad.

With contributions from producer Larry Campbell, longtime collaborator Barry Mitterhoff and best friend Jack Casady and many others, Jorma Kaukonen has come full circle on "Ain't in No Hurry" and is clearly ready for as many more rides as life's wild carousel is willing to offer.