Artists such as Walter Trout and Taj Mahal have no trouble living up to their sterling reputations (Trout tackles a trio of tunes, including "The Star-Spangled Banner"; Taj Mahal puts his spin on "All Along the Watchtower"), but it's the intriguing mix of entirely unfaithful interpretations and letter-perfect renditions, more so than the talented cast of musicians playing these selections, that makes Blue Haze an appropriate monument to Hendrix's massive musical influence. Michelle Shocked's hauntingly beautiful version of "House Burning Down" and Bernard Allison's "Hear My Train A Comin'" rank among the finest makeovers, while Eric Bibb's by-the-book reading of the ballad "Angel" captures the original's irresistible spirit.
When any influential musician dies, there's always some savvy individual out there ready to release every shower recording and bootleg ever to catch that artist on analog. Ostensibly, Experience Hendrix LLC (a business benefiting Hendrix's estate, headed by his father) was created to curb some of this, and it has, to a degree. In addition to buying Experience Hendrix-licensed tributes, such as Blue Haze, you too can own "official" $300 bomber jackets, $20 athletic shorts, and $50 bottles of wine -- just the way Jimi would want it, no doubt. No wonder imitation is a higher form of flattery.