Nov 29, 2009
He will always be the Quiet Beatle. George Harrison stood still in the background of the Fab Four, perhaps the most musically talented, and likely the deepest and most spiritual of the band. Today is the eighth anniversary of his death in 2001 from lung cancer, and Podcast 171 is dedicated to his memory.
Considered one of the greatest guitarists of the rock era, Harrison also carved out places in musical history for himself as one of the first Western musicians to play the sitar, and subsequently one of the first to bring world music into rock. He was the first great rock philanthropist, inventing the rock charity concert in 1971 with a benefit for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden. Diversifying from music, he moved into film production and was instrumental in supporting Terry Gilliam’s film career, both within and without Monty Python. Jazz musicians have been drawn to both the melodic and spiritual nature of Harrison’s work, so click here to listen to:
Nina Simone – “My Sweet Lord/Today is a Killer” from Emergency Ward! The great singer performed a medley of Harrison’s biggest solo hit, pairing it with a David Nelson poem. Nina was one of the most underrated interpreters of songs from the rock canon, recording masterful versions of songs by Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Harrison and the Bee Gees.
Joel Harrison – “Within You Without You” from Harrison on Harrison. No relation, but the jazz guitarist does have a great sense of George’s music in his improvisation. Here the Sgt. Pepper number gets a modal interpretation, courtesy of Harrison on guitars and voice; David Liebman on saxophone; David Binney on alto saxophone; Uri Caine on piano; Stephan Crump on bass; Dan Weiss on drums and Todd Isleron percussion.
Frank Sinatra – “Something” from Trilogy: Past, Present and Future. The second most covered Beatles song (after “Yesterday”), attracted a great singer like Sinatra, who called it "the greatest love song ever written" and made it a staple of his live shows.
BeatleJazz - “All Things Must Pass” from All You Need. The title track from Harrison’s three lp solo album that stands, along with John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band, as the finest work by an ex-Beatle. The group is Brian Melvin on drums/percussion and David Kikoski on piano. The album added guest spots by Toots Thielemans, Joe Lovano, Richard Bona and Larry Grenadier.
Monty Alexander – title track from Here Comes the Sun. Alexander has a flair for interpreting music from the likes of Bob Marley, and this quartet version of the Beatles classic shows he has a great sense of rhythm and timing. Alexander plays piano, Eugene Wright is on bass, Duffy Jackson plays drums and Montego Joe is on conga drums.