Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Various Artists - (I Got No Kick Against) Modern Jazz (1995)


Subtitled "A GRP Artists' Celebration of the Songs of The Beatles." Jazz musicians have been recording Beatles songs ever since 1964 with varying levels of success, so you know this will be a mixed bag. Leans a little too much towards Muzak for my tastes, but there are 2 or 3 decent tracks out of the 14 here. With that ratio of good to bad, I'm glad I bought this disc used. A good idea poorly executed.

Tracks:
  • The Long and Winding Road - George Benson: Full orchestral arrangement with decent pop vocals by Benson. The problem is that I'd rather hear his guitar playing. I bet this could have been a heck of an instrumental cover. You can hear a little of what could have been on the outro.
  • She's Leaving Home - McCoy Tyner: Wonderful (instrumental) piano trio. One of the better tracks on the disc. Tyner's characteristic voicing (lots of fourths) is present here and the bass and drums play off each other beautifully.
  • She's So Heavy (I Want You) - Groove Collective: This take can't really decide if it wants to be funk, bossa, acid jazz, salsa, or smooth jazz. Maybe this cover would have worked if it weren't so schizophrenic; the Beatles' original is pretty schizo as it is, it doesn't need any help on that count.
  • And I Love Her - Diana Krall: I'm normally a fan of Krall's sultry contralto voice and she certainly delivers vocally, but the boring arrangement is played at such a slow tempo, this is tedious and uninteresting.
  • The Fool On The Hill - Tom Scott: not a fantastic cover, but very representative of the early '90s smooth jazz drum machine sound. Scott is always a top-notch player, he just got stuck with bad production.
  • Michelle - Ramsey Lewis: This arrangement sounds like something Miles Davis and Marcus Miller would have come up with in the late '80s. The trio playing is great; I could do without the synths underneath Lewis' tasteful soloing.
  • A Day In the Life - Lee Ritenour: I wouldn't think that anyone could pull off a jazz arrangement of this classic, but I'm presently surprised here. Not the greatest cover, but definitely in the better half of the tracks here.
  • Let It Be - Nelson Rangell: Not good, not good at all. I'd love to hear a full-on gospel version of this song, but this certainly isn't it. Rangell is usually harmless enough, but here he sounds like David Sanborn doing warm-up exercises.
  • Eleanor Rigby - Chick Corea: Fantastic new age-ish piano solo. I believe this song originally had only two chords, so Chick is working overtime with the chord substitutions here. Nice ostinato in the left hand.
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps - Russ Freeman: By far the worst track on the disc. I would tell you to go listen on iTunes or YouTube, but I'm not that sadistic. I might be masochistic, however: I own but one Russ Freeman CD and this cover is on that, too. That means I'll have to listen to it again sometime in the future.
  • In My Life - Spyro Gyra: It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of SG so I might be a little biased here. This is a restrained, faithful cover with tasteful playing by the band.
  • Here There and Everywhere - David Benoit: Straight up Muzak, complete with violin solo. One of McCartney's best melodies reduced to mush with unnecessary ornamentation.
  • Blackbird - Arturo Sandoval: One of my top ten fav songs by The Beatles. This is done in a big band arrangement here (with a completely gratuitous half-time shout chorus) and, while it is good for what it is, I'd still much rather hear the original. It's probably a blast to perform, though.
  • Yesterday - Dave Grusin: Nothing new or exciting here, but this piano solo is pleasant enough.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None

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