Billboard Bits: James Taylor, Derek Trucks, Peter Buck

News on James Taylor, Derek Trucks, Peter Buck

James Taylor will be honored Feb. 6 as the MusiCares person of the year at a gala dinner in Los Angeles two nights prior to the 48th annual Grammy Awards. The event will feature a tribute concert and silent auction.

Taylor is being honored "as an extraordinary human being, musician and humanitarian who has made a global impact on music and culture," according to Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy and its MusiCares Foundation. "As the quintessential singer/songwriter, he embodies the creative spirit that is the hallmark of our finest and most enduring musical icons. His impact on the music and culture of our era has been enormous."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

The Derek Trucks Band has set a Feb. 7 release date for its next studio album, "Songlines." The Columbia album is the group's first studio set with singer Mike Mattison, who was already in the group when it recorded last year's concert album, "Live at the Georgia Theatre."

A selection of new originals (including "I'll Find My Way," "Revolution" and the instrumental "Mahjoun") are augmented by covers that include Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "Volunteered Slavery," Nusrat Fateh Ali Kahn's "Sahib Teri Bandi/Maki Madni" and Toots Hibbert's "Sailing On," as well as the traditional "Crow Jane."

The group has European dates on its schedule through a Nov. 8 show in Hamburg. A U.S. tour opens Nov. 11 in Glenside, Pa., and will run through late January.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck has been recording in Seattle with R.E.M. touring drummer Bill Rieflin and King Crimson leader Robert Fripp for a potential album, according to R.E.M.'s
Web site.

The group, which also features multi-instrumentalist Hector Zazou, bassist Fred Chalenor and drummer Matt Chamberlain, tested out the material earlier in the week during a show at Seattle's Crocodile Cafe.

Buck will also rejoin his on-again, off-again side band the Minus 5 for a five-date tour of Spain beginning Nov. 15 in Valencia.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.