Blue Note Plays STEVIE WONDER
Blue Note Plays THE BEATLES
Review by Will “The Thrill” Viharo
Three new compilation CDs paying tribute to Burt Bacharach, Stevie Wonder and The Beatles, respectively, make up the first entries in a wonderfully conceptualized series from Blue Note Records. These albums are glowing examples of how the apparently disparate worlds of rock, soul, jazz and lounge can fuse into an extremely rewarding and revelatory listening experience, proving that great composers create magic for the ages, not just their eras (or genres).
I threw these three on a changer hoping I could “name that tune,” even though some recognizable melodies might get lost in translation. I got it most of the time, and combining them really aided in my appreciation of the accomplished artistry assembled throughout these CDs. Of course, Burt Bacharach’s loungey compositions, from bouncy fluff like “Wives and Lovers” (Nancy Wilson) to classic pop like “The Look of Love” (The Three Sounds) and soulful gems like “Any Day Now” (Lou Rawls), are easily interpreted for Jazz audiences. The even more impressive (but equally satisfying) renditions are the funky fusions, like Stanley Turrentine’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” Paul Jackson’s “It’s a Shame” and Noel Pointer’s “Living For the City” on the Wonder CD, as well as inspired interpretations, like Lee Morgan’s magnificently moody take on “Yesterday,” Stanley Jordan’s aching “Eleanor Rigby” and Turrentine’s hard-swingin’ free-form “Can’t Buy Me Love” on the Beatles comp.
The various arrangements, featuring both vocal and instrumental cuts, are uniformly fresh and unique without negating the spirits of the originals. For jazz buffs in particular but music lovers in general, these beautiful, gently intoxicating CDs will put anyone in that relaxed, Sunday afternoon at home with a loved one frame of mind, even if you’re alone in traffic on a Tuesday.
Beatnik lounge lizard and writer Will “the Thrill” Viharo and his wife, Monica “the Tiki Goddess,” host a live cult movie cabaret called “Thrillville” at the Cerrito Speakeasy Theater in El Cerrito, CA. At home, he relaxes to groovy Vegas lounge, exotica, and heavy doses of Elvis while drinking homemade Mai Tais (which may have influenced these reviews somewhat).