Category Archives: Enrico Pieranunzi

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


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!

Bill Evans’ Heritage At Its Best – Enrico Pieranunzi’s Deep Down

Enrico Pieranunzi

When starting this post I was trying to find a good reason why I didn’t mention the brilliant Italian pianist Enrico Pieranunzi in my 25 Essential Jazz albums. Actually, I couldn’t really find one.

Probably the only one that comes to mind that out of the enormous recording legacy that Pieranunzi has done over the years (and he’s still recording) it is really hard to pick a winner, there are so many good albums in his discography.

Obviously, Bill Evans influenced many contemporary pianists. However, his influence is audible even more with Pieranunzi. He certainly doesn’t make a secret out of it, he’s even written a book about Bill Evans, and on the 1986 recording below and many others, he’s even taken on Marc Johnson, the bassist of Evans last trio (see his brilliant playing on Consecration).

That said, don’t think that Pieranunzi is merely a Evans clone, far from that, he is one of the most extraordinary piano players of our times for me.

Deep Down

Enrico Pieranunzi Marc Johnson Joey Barron Deep Down 1987 Soul Note

This 1986 album is an excellent example of what I like about Pieranunzi. You get beautiful ballads (We’ll Be Together Again or Atigny), swinging melodies (Dee Song), and one of my most loved standards (Someday My Prince Will Come) in a beautiful, very individual version.

Overall, Pieranunzi will never only record standards, he’ll always contribute his own compositions (4 of the 9 album tracks, with Marc Johnson contributing another original).

My rating: 5 stars (yes I know, again 5 stars, but rest assured, my blog so far just has a very heavy bias to the stuff I really like, it is really not that I’ll fork out 5 stars at every corner).

I strongly suggest you don’t limit yourself in the exploration of Pieranunzi to this album, there is so much more to discover. For example, I’d recommend you get this full 6CD box at Amazon, which includes 5 other albums from his earlier period, all good to excellent.

Enrico Pieranunzi The Complete Recordings on Black Saint and Soul Note 6 CD Box

You can also just download the individual album here (Qobuz).