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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Six Strangest Crossover Attempts By Jazz Musicians

Posted By on Tue, Oct 30, 2012 at 7:39 AM

About a week ago, our Northwest sister paper Seattle Weekly ran a post about the diminishing popularity of jazz. Watch for a lengthy reply by RFT Music's devilishly handsome resident jazz guitar school dropout later this week. In the meantime, here are the six most bizarre crossover attempts by jazz musicians. Let us know your favorites in the comments below.

See also: -Vijay Iyer is Excited to Return to St. Louis, Where a Track from The New Album Was Born -Vijay Iyer and the Outreachification of Jazz -Jazz: Meet the 2012 RFT Music Award Nominees

6. Herbie Hancock - "Tomorrow Never Knows" (w/ Dave Matthews) In 2010, Herbie Hancock released The Imagine Project, a series of collaborations with pop artists, mainly focused on Beatles-esque material. Kind of a cheap play, really, considering Herbie was floating off the success of River: The Joni Letters, his Album Of The Year Grammy winning take on Joni Mitchell tracks with guest vocalists. The tracks on Imagine are questionable at best, like the smoov funk "Imagine" featuring (deep breath) Pink, Seal, Indie Arie, Konono No 1, and Omour Sangare. But Herbie's version of Revolver's landmark "Tomorrow Never Knows" featuring (deep breath for a different reason) Dave Matthews is plain awful, a swampy shuffle with by-the-book psychedelia effects. The Beatles' original version is a transcendent acid trip; this one is yoga background music.

5. Brecker Brothers - Heavy Metal BeBop Legend has it that Randy and Michael Brecker played a gig with John Lennon and Yoko Ono shortly after the Beatles disbanded. John and Yoko were not present for rehearsals, and the Brecker Brothers heard Yoko sing for the first time at the actual concert. According to this legend, the trumpeter brother Randy found her voice humorous and was unable to laugh because he was holding a long note, so he peed himself on stage. I had a similar reaction when I first saw the record sleeve for Heavy Metal Be-Bop. This record is not what it seems; it's not a jazzed up "Iron Man," but that would probably be better. It's a stock jazz funk record with Terry Bozzio on drums, and the "heavy metal" part is just a pun for the robot costume on the cover. This record is bizarre because it seems like an attempted crossover but doesn't sound like one.


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