Subject:      RebaReview #19: 8/17/96 The Clifford Ball
From:      Tim Wade <>

RebaReview #19:
8-17-96, The Clifford Ball
Plattsburgh, NY, set I
Time: 16:00

THE DIRECTIONS (0:00): Trey seems to find something amusing about the
way PYITE ended...I can hear him giggling.  They sound really
good...must be a beautiful day at the Ball.  Very steady, very clean
first time through.  I'm waiting for the melted wax clapping...maybe
it's there and I just can't hear it.  In any case, the directions read
pretty will, and it seems like a nice afternoon for

THE SIP (2:16): I love this...a perfectly clean sip, it really shows the
polish of almost seven years of growth for the old girl.  There's really
not much for me to say here...they just play it perfectly is all, with a
perfectly smooth build to

THE SWALLOW (4:38): Hmmm...I always thought that on the first time
through the swallow, Trey leads and Page follows, but the more versions
I hear, the more it sounds like they stay together the first time
through (Page still taking the lead on the second).  In any case, this
is a good strong swallow.  Nice rhythm from Fish, and pretty spotless
all around.  The table has been set, kids, and as they start to pound
out the closing Swallow chords, I'm getting goosebumps because of

THE CHILL (6:02): Mike makes a little slip in the first few moments of
the jam, nothing noticeable to anyone less anal than me.  No matter...he
corrects, and Page enters presently, chording gently per usual.  Trey
chirps in at 6:20, immedeately drifting along up  high, looking for
something to catch on to.  Page switches over, bringing in some electric
chimes to really mellow things out, while Trey continues to search for a
line.  Something Page does catches Trey's ear, and he mimics it,
following him through a shift at 6:41.  Trey gets caught on a few notes,
playing with an ascending/descending phrase.  He allows the phrase to
drift a little, but not much, while Page paints pretty pictures behind
Trey.  Mike gets caught up in this, stuck on a high note which gradually
lifts Fishman away from the beat and into the air, hanging on to gentle
dings of cymbal.  This continues until 7:24, at which time Trey and Page
change gives a tearful, melancholy flavor to the jam almost
instantly, and Fishman adds some more little accents.  Mike is right
there with the change.  This continues for a moment, until Fishman
gently brings his bass drum back in, and starts to put our feet back on
the ground.  Trey drifts, Page scales upward, Mike then drops downward,
and Trey gives a little lick to mark a shift at 7:47.  Woo!

Steadiness has returned to the beat now.  Everything is still pretty
gentle from Page and Trey, Trey continuing to noodle along up high up to
another short lick, real high, which gives way to another shift at
8:06.  Again, Fishman edges toward more steadiness, but Page and Trey
are still feeling very airy...Fishman inserts some flams and taps...he
begins to syncopate a bit to match Trey...Trey starts to dwell down low
a bit, bringing Mike into the 8:38 Trey finds a sad little
phrase and starts to repeat it, making spaces for neat, creative fills
from Fish.  Page suddenly finds the _perfect_ accent for this...the
fifth time through, Trey heads for a shift, catching a note that he uses
to rally everyone in together for a _nice_ shift at 9:10.  Beautiful!

Fishman and Mike really put things on track now, and Page starts to hop
along, too.  Trey begins to increase the speed of his noodling, ever so
slightly, to keep up with the stronger tempo.  Still very airy and
beautiful, though.  He hits a soulful slide in here that leads up to
another, stronger shift at 9:31.  He immedeately hops on that three note
ascending/descending phrase again, repeating it over and over.
Meanwhile, Page switches back over to the baby grand, and GordoFish
rhythm begins to get into the zone.  Page does well not to get too
caught up in what Trey is doing, because his repetitiveness is
hypnotic...hypnotic...excuse me, another shift comes around at 9:52, and
while Trey is starting to release that phrase from his grasp, he doesn't
let it get too far.  Page continues to add unique support to Trey, who
starts to fade away as another shift point draws 10:13 he
begins to pluck through chordal variations of that lick, not really
shifting but gently changing the flavor a bit.  It gets to Mike, who
signals a response with a fill that seems to say "Oh, yeah, I'm right
there with ya."  A shift point comes by, marked only by increased
urgency from Mr. Fishman.  Mike has really got a feel going, he and Page
I think are in tune with each other.  Trey continues to stay close but
he's holding back, as he must, from getting too caught up in the build.
Finally he hits a shift at 11:16, and responds with a lick that he tried
in the Sugarbush ‘95 version that ended in feedback and a sour look on
my face. _This_ time there is no feedback, and that same lick I think
works really nicely here.  Trey is continuing to hold back, giving
Fishman fits of glorious percussion...he noodles around for forever,
heading up and heading down, dancing around...he shifts again to some
more dwelling, repetitive noodles...then even more dwelling...he's
playing this fiendishly cool, just gradually increasing the tension.
Fishman eventually has to let loose with a large snare roll, just to let
off a little steam.  Trey continues to use various repetitive licks to
stir up all sorts of commotion, and as he utilizes a descending phrase
Fish taps out some warning almost sounds like he's telling
Trey "If you keep this up I'm gonna pop."  Trey tries to take the first
available shift, but he doesn't quite hit it well enough to cause a
release, and he has to break away.  Working back down he starts
collecting for another shot at it, but at 12:51 the rhythm solidifies
again and Trey starts sustaining...long, dark sustain...he lets the one
note go but continues to work down low with torturous, sustianed
phrases...suddenly he hits one to repeat, much like those earlier licks,
at 13:12.  Page is pretty close by Trey and gets sucked into it first,
and then Mike gets HOOKED, big time!  Everyone just locks up together in
this phrase, totally and completely tuned in together!!  Oh, that's so

Trey finally breaks free at 13:33, and now there's a _serious_ groove to
be dealt with...that little occurance really brought everyone together.
Trey senses it, and responds the only way he can at this
point...smoothly.  He continues to noodle, but gradually he pushes it
upwards, steadily, and this time it culminates in a nice sustained
release at 13:54.  Trey still hasn't really opened up, but he is
waist-deep in repetitive mid-to-high level Reba noodles.  He lets this
continue past the first possible shift, and as we draw toward another,
Page is starting to freak out, hitting some fierce rolls on the piano,
trying desperately to show he needs a release from all of this.  Trey
does actually hit the next's not sudden, it's not striking,
but again, he just gently pushes things up another notch at 14:36.  Now
he's just wailing away with sustained licks from the hights, and Page
starts to pound along in support.  Fishman hits another pronounced snare
roll and we hit another shift at 14:58.  It's another return to
stability, but with real power pushing the jam along.  Everyone is
locked together again, and it's possible that they could continue this
until someone passes out, but they are all too in synch to pass up the
shift point coming up.  At 15:18 it hits, and Page jumps on the organ to
herald the high reaches of Reba, while Trey continues to sustain in
mighty phrases.  Fishman begins to completely lose it...but I don't
think we've peaked it comes...Trey, even this far into an
insanely smooth jam, retains his composure and doesn't rush things...oh,
yes, release at 15:39!  This is simply triumphant!  Fishman gives the
old warning taps again, just to make sure everyone knows this is really
it this time.  But I think we already's just time to roll out
the toms, which Fishman does at 16:00 on the nose.

THE WET WHISTLE: No, sir, not today...this Reba has reached some serious
hieghts, and she's tired, so we're going to plop her right down in a
Car, a Truck, or a Bus.  Thank you for drinking "Reba" brand jams, hope
you enjoyed the ride, have a happy day.  (Translation: The closing toms
drop right on top of the opening note of Cars, Trucks, and Buses).
Trey, however, can be heard to giggle again during the opening seconds
of CTB.  I think I get it this time. ;)


To me, this version is a spiritual descendant of the NYE ‘95 version, in
that I feel that neither version really takes many _risks_, and
therefore I start it at a disadvantage.  I've heard Reba before...I want
to hear a version make it known that it _is_ unique.  Spreckles,
Warfield, Lincoln...versions like that have a really unique flavor
(though there may be other stuff about them which I don't like).

Now, the feedback I got when I gave NYE ‘95 a B+ was that it was several
people's favorite version because of its overall continuity; it was
smooth.  I went back and listened to that version over and over again,
and, yes, it is smooth.  I also think, however, that it's a bit
rushed...that opener, that night, the Garden...too much energy kind of
hurt it, IMHO.  There's a difference between a fast Reba and a rushed

Now, it could be that I am biased against the NYE ‘95 version because of
a) the botched Swallow, or b) the low quality of my (everyone's?) tape.
Personally, I don't think so, but I would love to hear a really clean
version of that performance to compare.  I do plan on a few more trials
before I've reviewed half of the Reba's (when I plan to take another
look at all the grades).  As it is, though, I should probably get around
to the point.

Like I said, this Clifford Ball Reba also doesn't take many risks...but
it _does_ take its time.  A lot of it, really.  In fact, it's the
longest version I've reviewed thus far, clocking in at an even 16
minutes (Spreckles was 15:51 w/o the whistling).  The NYE version is a
minute and a half shorter, and in Reba terms, that's quite a bit.  But
it's not just time, it's the's a lot of listening to each
other, a lot of attention and effort.  I really do love hearing the guys
lock up like they do toward the end of this jam...I don't know if that's
what you would call a hose, but it's seems like something darn close to
me.  There are moments of real beauty here that they just allow to
happen, and that's what I like to hear from a _smooth_ jam.

So I think it only fair to rate this one significantly higher than NYE
‘95, which is fine by me, ‘cause I really like this version.  It's one
of the first ones I would grab if I wanted to impress someone with what
a lovely song it is.  At the same time, I think that the grade of A+
should be reserved for those versions which test some uncharted waters,
taking a chance that things will just go *clunk*, and somehow still
manage to return smoothly to produce a wonderful, exhaltant finish.  So,
no, I can't give this one an A+, but I can't find any reason to tag a
"-" on to a beauty of a Reba like that.  So...

Finest in the nation?  On a beautiful day at the Ball, does it really

A, whith a big satisfied grin on my face.

- Tim