Category Archives: Christian McBride

My Top10 Jazz Covers Of Pop Songs

Pop/Rock music in Jazz

The usage of pop music in Jazz is actually nothing new, to be fair, many of what are considered today’s Jazz standards were initially “pop” songs of their times.

In my list below, I’ve taken some kind of liberty with the definition of “Pop/Rock” song (in a nutshell it is just another list of music I love).

The entire list started with me listening to Christian McBride’s recent live album I just reviewed and particularly his “Car Wash” song, his version of this 1970s disco classic.

Don’t pay any attention to the numbering, this is just completely random, no ranking implied.

I’m pretty sure I’ve missed many others, please add your favorites in the comments!

1. Christian McBride – Car Wash

As mentioned before, from the great Album Live At The Village Vanguard 

The Christian McBride Trio Live At The Village Vanguard 2015 MackAvenue

2.  Brad Mehldau – Exit Music For a Film

I’ve already listed Brad Mehldau in my 25 Essential Jazz Albums, and he actually has two pop covers on there, I could have chosen both Nick Drake’s Riverman and this cover from Radiohead.

Brad Mehldau Art of the Trio vol 3 Songs Warner Jazz 1998

3. Sophie Hunger – I Put A Spell On You

I’ve already reviewed this great Nina Simone tribute album, and this version of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic is my favorite song on there. Love it!

Autour de Nina Verve Compilation Sophie Hunger Melody Gardot

4.  The Bad Plus – Smells Like Teen Spirit

I haven’t mentioned this American trio on my blog yet, interestingly enough. They do a lot of cover versions which are usually a lot of fun, like this Nirvana classic from their 2003 album These Are The Vistas.

The Bad Plus These Are The Vistas 2003

5.  Gretchen Parlato – Holding Back the Years

The American singer Gretchen Parlato has really found her very own style, you’ll recognize her immediately. She deserves even more attention than she currently gets!

And as much as I hate Simply Red in general, I really like this cover a lot.

Gretchen Parlato The Lost And Found

6. Marcin Wasilewski Trio – Diamonds and Pearls

Marcin Wasilewski is a great Polish pianist, his trio recordings on ECM are very beautiful, and he’s played quite a bit on other great recordings as well. Here he’s covering Prince.

Marcin Wasilewski January

 

7. Holly Cole – Tennessee Waltz

Is Holly Cole actually a Jazz singer? Well, probably borderline. Who cares, this album is amazingly beautiful. One of my favorite songs on here is the 1940s classic Tennessee Waltz.

Holly Cole Don't Smoke In Bed

8. Musica Nuda – Roxane 

Musica Nuda, the Italian duo of Petra Magoni (vocals) and Ferruccio Spinet (double bass) is not very well-known outside of Italy, which is a pity, as it is really astounding to hear what you can do with this rather improbable “nude” combination of voice and bass, without any piano or drums. The do cover quite a lot of pop songs, The Police’s Roxane is just one beautiful example.

Musica Nuda Live At Fip

9. Youn Sun Nah – Enter Sandman

Youn Sun Nah also has a great track on Autour de Nina (mentioned above), but her own albums are equally impressive, e.g. this album Same Girl on ACT, which gives us this beautiful Metallica cover.

Youn Sun Nah Same Girl

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10. Sarah McKenzie – Moon River

I’ve recently praised Sarah McKenzie’s new release We Could Be Lovers, and still have it in constant rotation. Moon River is just out of this world!

Sarah McKenzie We Could Be Lovers Impulse 2015

So, what do you think? I’m considering a second edition of this blog post. Any recommendations would be appreciated!

A Lot Of Fun At The Vanguard – Christian McBride’s New Live Album

3 Kinds of Piano Trios

I’ve written about a lot of piano trio album already, as this is one of my favorite genres, from Shai Maestro, to Helge Lien, to the obvious Keith Jarrett (here and here). By the way, if you’re interested in reading all my posts about a particular genre like the piano trio, just click on the category link in the  sidebar (or here). I spent a lot of effort categorizing and tagging my posts as I want you to be able to find stuff easily. Otherwise there is always the free text search.

I personally mentally categorize the Jazz piano trio into three classes:

  1. Focusing on the melody

These move a bit away from the traditional Jazz, and have a strong focus on the melody and harmonic development. Typical examples for me are Triosence, Edgar Knecht, or the Tingvall trio. As you can see from my previous reviews, I really like this category, as I am a sucker for melodies.

2. Avantgarde

Going beyond traditional harmonies and rhythmic structures, these groups tend to be more exploratory, recent examples include Vijay Iyer or Giovanni Guidi. Often, these aren’t really my cup of tea. That’s why you won’t be reading a lot about them here, in spite of the fact that I admire their artistic creativity.

3. It Don’t Mean A Thing if It AInt’ Got that Swing

Typical examples are Oscar Peterson and Ray Brown, where a certain Swing is always present.

I very much like this form of piano Jazz, nothing better to cheer you up if you are in a bad mood.

Obviously, these classifications are never clear-cut, but they help me mentally organize my music collection.

Christian McBride Live At The Village Vanguard

i was pointed to this album by forum contributor JoeWhip (see here).

For whatever reason McBride, a bassist close to the great Ray Brown, kind of flew under the radar for me, probably he was more active as a sideman than a leader, what a miss!

I’m glad I finally rediscovered him. He plays here with Ulysses Owens Jr on drums and Christian Sands on piano.

The Christian McBride Trio Live At The Village Vanguard 2015 MackAvenue

This album is a typical example where I just can’t sit still. Whenever I’m in a Jazz concert I’m always surprised that there are so many people in the audience that sit completely still. That’s ok for me maybe during a ballad.

But on any uptempo song I just need to somehow move with the music, whether it is my foot, hand, or whatever. I may look a bit silly, but it is completely impossible for me not to go with the music. And this is how the third category of trio jazz I mentioned above should be!

This is excellent live Jazz, nothing else but pure enjoyment. And the extra energy of the mythical Vanguard that I always visit when my travels get me to NYC probably helps.

After Aaron Diehl and Cécile McLorin Salvant, Mack Avenue has another winner here!

My rating: 4 stars

You can download it here (Qobuz) or here (HDTracks)