Sep 2, 2017
Jazz musicians have drawn on a myriad of sources for tunes with which they can hone their craft. Whether its Broadway shows, the Great American Songbook, or European Art music, inspiration can stroke from any source.
Chicago-based bassist Joe Policastro and his Trio (guitarist Dave Miller, and drummer Mikel Avery) have made current pop songs and the entire score of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story the basis of their last two albums. With the release of Screen Sounds, they have expanded to television and motion picture soundtracks, Their selections stay away from the tried and true, tackling soap operas, samurai classics and even the themes from Twin Peaks and Taxi. The results are refreshing, as they more often than not turn expectations on their head.
Policastro is active as a composer and arranger, and besides this swinging trio, he leads and co-leads the Gerry Mulligan tribute ensembles, Jeru, and the Mulligan Mosaics Big Band, both for which he has extensively written and arranged. As an educator, he has been a Ravinia Jazz Mentor, a Lecturer of Jazz Studies at DePaul University, a bass instructor at Morton College and the Chicago Academy for the Arts, and he is currently a jazz director at the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory. You can catch the trio at the Chicago club Pops for Champagne every Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
Podcast 589 is my conversation with Joe, as we talk about how the Trio deconstructs familiar themes into something new and exciting. Musical Selections include “Nadia’s Theme (The Young and the Restless)”, “Angela (Theme from Taxi)” “Summer Kisses, Winter Dreams” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”( or as one listener said to Policastro, “that song from Shrek”).