Almost fifty years after his death, Jimi Hendrix remains a pivotal and influential figure not only in rock music but it would seem in jazz as well. Let’s listen to a few covers, shall we?
First up, the tune “Third Stone from the Sun” originally recorded on Hendrix’ debut album. This tune lends itself pretty well to jazz with Mitch Mitchell’s solid, swinging drumming.
It’s here covered by the Francis Lockwood trio from an album called Hendrix in Jazz. (Whose cover I borrowed for this post.) There is precious little information that I could about Lockwood other than that he is a French pianist with an apparent aversion to any sort of publicity.
“Spanish Castle Magic” from Hendrix’s debut album has always been one of my favorites. It is groovy, man:
Not sure if they are still together but the band Fly is/was a trio consisting of saxophonist Mark Turner, drummer Jeff Ballard, and bassist Larry Grenadier. This cover of “Magic” is from their 2004 debut album:
Right about now you’re saying to yourself, wouldn’t it be perfect here to have a violin-based version of “Fire?” Or course it would. First, the Hendrix version. Another personal favorite. When I asked a drummer friend who his favorite drummer was he said Mitch Mitchell and encouraged me to listen to “Fire.” So for once, I listened to drums more than guitar:
Wikipedia: “Nigel Kennedy is an English violinist and violist. He made his early career in the classical field and has more recently performed in jazz, klezmer, and other music genres. Kennedy’s grandfather was Lauri Kennedy, principal cellist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and his grandmother was Dorothy Kennedy, a pianist.”
In 1999 he made this cool little album (as Kennedy) called The Kennedy Experience. You ain’t never heard “Fire” quite like this:
Manic depression is not only a frustrating mess but also another really cool tune from Jimi’s debut. Let’s give it a listen, shall we:
From her website: Ida Sand is a Swedish jazz singer and pianist. Another genetically-motivated musician, her father Staffan was an opera singer with the Royal Swedish Opera and her mother Christina worked as a church musician. In 2005 she received a phone call from Germany. It was from the jazz label ACT. Ida’s debut solo album Meet Me Around Midnight was then released in 2007
Here – again from Hendrix in Jazz – is her too-cool-for-the-room cover of “Manic Depression:”
And lastly, we all know that Hendrix did not write “All Along the Watchtower” but some other dude did. But let’s face it – Hendrix made it his own so much that I think the other guy does Hendrix’s version!
A band I really dig is the Turtle Island String Quartet. (They changed their name to Turtle Island Quartet somewhere along the way.) I first caught their action years ago on some long-forgotten late-night New York TV show. They did Cream’s version of “Crossroads” and I thought, fuck, you can do that? I saw them live a couple of years ago and disappointingly, as good as they were, they seemed to have dropped much of the rock from their repertoire:
9 thoughts on “Jazz Covers of Jimi Hendrix Tunes”
Cool idea for a post. I have to say I like all of these renditions. If I had to call out one in particular, I guess it would be Nigel Kennedy’s “Fire” – I mean holy smoke! You could even picture the guy playing behind his back or with his teeth! Or how about Ida Sand’s cover of “Manic Depression?” Or that string quartet belting out “All Along the Watchtower”? Okay, that’s already three out of five. Well, as I said, I really dig all of them! 🙂
“Fire” is fucking insane. If you get a chance, search my site for Turtle Island. The first time I heard them they were playing “Crossroads,” solos and all. Mind-blowing.
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Yes, cool idea for a post. I’m a huge Hendrix fan, so I need to park my bias that “only Hendrix can do justice to Hendrix songs” when listening to other interpretations. Ida Sand’s & Turtle Island’s interpretations were very good and easily accessible to me as they didn’t stray too far from the originals (notwithstanding that “All Along The Watchtower” is a cover). The harder core jazz numbers are going to take me a few more listens, but I’m going to do that. Thanks for sharing these!
I’ve had this idea in mind for a while. I have an occasional “jazzers who rock” series and this fits right in. I dig that you’re approaching it with an open mind. “Fire” is insane and one of my top 5 Jimi songs ever.
I really like Ida. The other two, Fly and Lockwood hit the spot. The other have more a classical tilt (Backgrounds in that genre). Turtle is pretty easy to listen to (you’ve featured them before). You know I’m a violin guy. I’ve tried Nigel before and just never go back to him. I think I have his cut on a compilation or a different cut. Jimi’s version of ‘Fire” is also a CB fave. Good post.
Yeah, Kennedy is on a compilation record. His “Fire” is appropriately weird, like Zubin Mehta playing with Zappa. My buddy Steve is a violin guy. I liked the mix of the jazz/classical when I stumbled on it. It’s funny how jazzy “Third Stone” was without me even realizing it.
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I’m still in the Frank groove. Yeah Nigel’s classical prominence comes through to my ear.
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Great read. Great website. Keep up the great work. And thanks!
Your comment got caught up in my spam filter. Restored. Thanks. I will check out your site as well as it sounds interesting.
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