In the Music Spotlight: Jeff Beck

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Revered rock guitarist Jeff Beck is cresting another wave of acclaim as he celebrates 50 years of dynamic performances. His current activity does more than look back on career highlights, although he has found a good way to do just that. Beck’s new album and book allow him to push forward while providing an overview both to longtime fans and newcomers.

The album “Loud Hailer” arrived July 15, finding the 72-year-old guitarist in firm command of his instrumental chops. Beck’s envied tone and blues-based soloing are fused with heavy rock and EDM rhythms on the bold “Live in the Dark.”

“Loud Hailer” won’t remind listeners much of Beck’s pop music roots with the Yardbirds. Songs like the instrumental “Pull It,” however, display the daring fretwork that has influenced avant-garde guitarists like Adrian Belew and progressive guitar heroes like Alex Lifeson of Rush.

Beck appears at Ravinia with his Chicago-based hero Buddy Guy for a double shot of world-class guitar slinging. On Beck’s visit to Chicago last year, he was joined by Wet Willie vocalist Jimmy Hall. The singer’s history with Beck dates to 1985’s “Flash” album, and Hall proved to be a masterful surrogate for Rod Stewart on classics like “Morning Dew.”

Today, Beck is updated and reinvigorated by collaboration with spitfire singer Rosie Bones of English duos BIGkids and Bones. Also providing spark is Bones guitarist Carmen Vandenberg, who capably assumes a daunting role alongside such a legendary player as Beck. In addition to co-writing the album, both women join the touring band supporting “Loud Hailer.”

Beck’s lengthy career is the subject of a self-penned, retrospective tome called Beck01. Coupled with “Loud Hailer” songs like “O.I.L.,” the new book explores Beck’s dual passion for hot rods and rock ‘n’ roll. “For me, cars and music were always interconnected,” says Beck in the book. “Music and driving provided freedom.”

* Jeff Beck and Buddy Guy, 7 p.m., July 31, Ravinia Festival, 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park, $44-$160;

Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer. Email:

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