Jeff Beck gets band worthy of guitar god

Jeff Beck performs during the Montreal International Jazz Festival
in Montreal on July 6, 2009.

If the sometimes reclusive Jeff Beck seems to have resurfaced with a burst of activity lately, it might be because he has finally found the perfect band.

Sure, people filled Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts Monday night to see the legendary British guitarist, who had received the Montreal International Jazz Festival Guitar Show's first Tribute award earlier in the day. And during the first of his two shows, they relished every sustained note, tremolo lurch and outburst of controlled feedback from Beck's FenderStratocaster.

Still, it's hard to imagine that anyone left without expressing some amazement at the work of drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, a rare beatmaster who can be flashy and swing at the same time. Nor would it be easy to downplay the shadings and harmonies of keyboard player Jason Rebello.

But aside from the boss, the show-stealer was bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, who, at 23, has played with Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock, among others.

Although she's more like a second lead guitarist, she can also shadow Beck's lines or anchor the quartet as needed.

In a set that closely mirrored the selection on last year's live disc from Ronnie Scott's club, the group opened with Beck's Bolero, as the man of the hour slid into the high registers, making his guitar squeal and scream.

As the evening moved on, whether he was spraying clusters of growling low notes, as on the reggae scorcher Behind the Veil, taking A Day In the Life to strange and wonderful places or winding down with the lonesome Where Were You, Beck demonstrated why, in the world of rock guitar gods, he pretty much can't be touched.

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