Here’s my previous ‘Jazzers Who Rock’ post.
If you’ve followed this blog for more than a day, you’ll know that I love artists’ reinvention of others’ songs. Jazz musicians have forever used pop songs and standards as the basis for their explorings. (Case in point – As part of my foray into jazz guitar, I’m learning the melody to “Autumn Leaves,” directly from Frank Sinatra’s vocal.)
What jazzers like about these songs is, typically, melody and harmonic complexity. So you have, for example, Miles Davis doing “Someday My Prince Will Come,” a Disney tune. (Random side observation – while I can find no picture of them together, Miles and Frank were contemporaries, very much admired each other’s work and apparently would sometimes hang out together in night clubs. There was even rumor of them possibly recording together but it never happened. Talk about a dream team.)
It was only logical that a later generation of jazzers would venture into rock songs as the basis for their improvisation. Remarkably, some of these tunes easily lend themselves to sophisticated treatments.
For your consideration, covers of three of our favorite bands:
☛Karen Souza is a jazz singer from Buenos Aires. (A city I’d love to get to someday). Apparently, she’s got quite the fan base in Mexico. And then there’s this tidbit from Wikipedia: “Souza’s lounge music cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” was used extensively in the 2013 film The Zero Theorem, directed by Terry Gilliam, who had not been familiar with the original rendition.”
And so, without further ado, “Creep.” (My second use of a Radiohead song by a jazzer.) The brief piano solo at 2:21 is mighty fine:
☛In a discussion with fellow blogger Cincinnati Babyhead, he asked me if I’d heard Charlie Hunter’s version of “Come As You Are.” I hadn’t. And given that I recently did a Nirvana series, this seemed like an appropriate choice. Hunter is a fellow New Englander (Rhode Island) who has been active as a guitarist since the early ’90’s. I would someday like to be able to play half as well. This tune is really nice:
☛Joshua Redman is a sax player whose father Dewey played sax with jazz artists such as Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett. Joshua grew up listening to his father’s music but also cites influences such as The Beatles, Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin.
Zep did an album called Houses of the Holy way back when. If you’re familiar with the song, “The Crunge,” you’ll likely say “No way that can be done in a jazz style.” Think again. Joshua’s point of departure on this one is that funky beat: