What if the Mahavishnu Orchestra simultaneously injected more classical music influences as well as country influences into their ground-breaking jazz fusion? Answer: you’d get the Dixie Dregs. That was a band primarily active in the 1970s and ‘80s. On the next Vinyl Vault, we’ll hear the album that was recorded probably during their peak, “What If,” released in 1978 on Capricorn Records.

The Dixie Dregs were led by guitarist and primary composer, Steve Morse who is every bit the guitar wizard as John McLaughlin. The rest of the quintet was just as talented, Andy West on bass, Mark Parrish on keyboards, Rod Morganstein on drums, and Dr. Allen Sloan (he’s a medical doctor) on violin.

The band specialized in lightning-fast playing, often with multiple instruments in unison. But “What If” is not all flash and bombast, the record also features many delicate, classically inspired acoustic pieces. Besides the elements of jazz, rock, classical, and country, the Dixie Dregs were also heavily influenced by progressive rock, especially on some of their longer pieces that contained multiple changes throughout, similar to separate movements in a symphony.

Check out “What If” by the Dixie Dregs with host Geoff Anderson on the next Vinyl Vault, Tuesday, June 18 at 8:30 p.m. on KUVO JAZZ.

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