Apr 29, 2010
I’ve explored the connection between jazz and rock music a number of times during my tenure as a blogger. For example, I’ve presented podcasts of jazz artists handling the music of Joni Mitchell, the Grateful Dead, and Sting. However, those three artists have jazz roots/influences to their music, whether by virtue of chord structure, improvisation or inspiration. Today, it’s time to show how jazz takes on a totally different genre – heavy metal rock music.
OK, “heavy metal” might be too specific a term, since the artists I’m showcasing on Podcast 180 play music that might be considered “hard rock” or “classic rock” by fans of the originals. But for the sake of making a cohesive grouping, and showing just how creative jazz musicians can really be, click here and listen to:
Fred Ho & the Green Monster Big Band – “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” from Celestrial Green Monster. Mr. Ho assembled some of his favorite musicians to sit in on a recent release that covers this Iron Butterfly classic, along with some striking originals. This is most definitely not your father’s big band sound, as the twenty musicians take the lengthy guitar workout and turn it inside out. Special nods to singers Abraham Gomez-Delgado and Haleh Hartigan, along with blazing sections of trumpets and trombones.
Alex Skolnick Trio – “Electric Eye” from Transformation. Guitarist Skolnick was a metal head before he entered The New School’s jazz-studies program, so its not surprising that he would cover Deep Purple, Dio and this Judas Priest song on his 2004 release. The band is Alex Skolnick on guitars, Nathan Peck on double-bass, and Matt Zebroski on drums and percussion. All three chime in on vocals.
The Bad Plus – “Iron Man” from Give. The “world’s loudest piano trio” has covered rock acts from Nirvana and Radiohead to Blondie and Pink Floyd as they seek to change what jazz fans consider as “standards” in the 21st century. This Black Sabbath classic is given a reverant yet expansive reading by the band, with pianist Ethan Iverson taking the lead, and bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Dave King providing the heavy, heavy beat.
Stanley Jordan – “Stairway to Heaven” from Stolen Moments. Known for his unique “tapping” style of guitar playing, Jordan covers American Songbook standards as easily as he covers Michael Jackson, or in this case, Led Zeppelin. He gives Jimmy Page a run for his money with his killer playing, backed by Charnett Moffett on bass and Kenwood Dennard on drums.