Oct 30, 2009
Part two of the birthday boy’s podcast tributes comes with recordings made by Gordon Sumner
himself, tapping into his jazz vein. He was quoted in 1985 when asked why he drafted jazz musicians for his backing band:
"I want freedom and the privilege to surprise people. With this new band, I want to destroy the old stereotypes that have been built around me. I feel very at home with jazz. This new group has a jazz influence, but it's not a jazz band. It has a polarity of all the best of my music. I try to achieve the cross-pollination in music that happened in the 1960s."
With that in mind, let’s listen to that band and a few others such as:
Sting – “Consider Me Gone” from Bring On the Night. When Sting decided to take his initial solo material on the road, he decided his backing band should have a jazz sound. The result was a lineup starring saxophonist Branford Marsalis, pianist Kenny Kirkland, drummer Omar Hakim (formerly of Weather Report), and Darryl Jones, (Miles Davis).
Sting and Gil Evans – “Strange Fruit “ from Last Session. Sting and legendary jazz composer/pianist/arranger Evans performed at the Perugia Jazz Festival on July 11, 1987. The concert turned out to be Evans’ final performance, as he died shortly thereafter. The repertoire for the show was Police hits alongside a wide array of covers ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Tony Williams to this Billie Holiday classic. The 19-piece ensemble featured George Adams on tenor sax, Lew Soloff on trumpet, Mark Egan on bass, and Branford Marsalis on tenor and soprano sax. The recording has never been released in the US.
Frank Zappa – “Murder By Numbers” from Broadway the Hard Way. Perhaps the strangest collaboration of Sting’s career came with Zappa in 1988, when he performed an unusual arrangement of "Murder By Numbers", set to the tune "Stolen Moments” by jazz composer Oliver Nelson, and for some reason "dedicated" to fundamentalist evangelist Jimmy Swaggart.
Sting – “My Funny Valentine” from Sting at the Movies, Sting has a soft spot for the standards. He has recorded “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “My One and Only Love”, among others. This track was recorded with pianist Herbie Hancock to play at the end of the Japanese film Ashura., directed by Yojiro Takita in 2005.
Chris Botti featuring Sting – “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?” From To Love Again – The Duets. Sting has appeared on a number of Botti studio recordings, and was a guest on the trumpeter’s recent TV special turned DVD turned live CD. This classic ballad has lyrics written by Alan and Marilyn Bergman and music by Michel Legrand. The recording on a 2006 Grammy award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist, the award shared by Billy Childs, Gil Goldstein, and Hector Pereira.
Herbie Hancock featuring Sting – “Sister Moon” from Possibilities. It seemed a natural choice for Hancock to ask Sting to join him on this CD, which enlisted pop and rock performers to sing with a jazz band, often reimaging their own work.