In June 2006, John Mayer showed off his jazzy side in a guest appearance at Jazz at Lincoln Center's annual fundraising gala. The singer-guitarist teamed with trumpeter and JALC artistic director Wynton Marsalis, and other members of the organization's house band, for a heartfelt version of "I'm Gonna Find Another You," a lovelorn, downtempo track that would see release on his Continuum LP that same year. Audio of the performance, which you can watch in full above, appears on United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas, an all-star compilation of live performances recorded between 2003 and 2007.
Each of the album's tracks finds Marsalis & Co. backing a well-known guest on a song from their own catalog or a cover. Bob Dylan turns up for a 2004 reinterpretation of his Highway 61 Revisited classic "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry," arranged by Marsalis and streaming below; Lenny Kravitz appears performing "Are You Gonna Go My Way" in 2007; Eric Clapton offers his 2003 rendition of Louis Armstrong's "I'm Not Rough"; and James Taylor sings his own "Mean Old Man."
In a statement, Marsalis discussed how he and his bandmates approached the diverse material featured on the compilation. "When collaborating with each of these musicians, we naturally had a lot of explicit conversations about the blues form," the trumpeter tells Rolling Stone. "The styles we were playing were kind of American root styles: hymns, folk songs, different types of blues shuffles, country blues shuffles. Most of our rhythm section was from New Orleans – the crossroads of all of those styles – it was easier for us to access the gospel music, early rock & roll with the type of back beat shuffle, and the swing rhythm. We discussed all those types of things a lot. We talked about form, and how we would go from one part to the other, when there's too much arrangement, when to take horns out, all this kind of stuff."
Also featured on United We Swing are Natalie Merchant, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett. The compilation is out March 23rd on JALC's own Blue Engine Records and is available for preorder.
United We Swing: Best of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Galas track list
1. "The Last Time" feat. Blind Boys of Alabama
2. "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" feat. Bob Dylan
3. "I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town" feat. Ray Charles
4. "I'm Not Rough" feat. Eric Clapton
5. "Creole Love Call" feat. Audra McDonald
6. "Milk Cow Blues" feat. Willie Nelson
7. "I'm Gonna Find Another You" feat. John Mayer
8. "My Baby Don’t Tolerate" feat. Lyle Lovett
9. "The Worst Thing" feat. Natalie Merchant
10. "Please Baby Don't" feat. John Legend
11. "Mean Old Man" feat. James Taylor
12. "Are You Gonna Go My Way" feat. Lenny Kravitz
13. "Fool’s Paradise" feat. Jimmy Buffett
14. "Empty Bed Blues" feat. Carrie Smith
15. "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" feat. Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks
16. "What Have You Done?"