Album review

‘Blue Note Re:imagined II’

Various Artists / Blue Note Re:imagined II

(Decca Records 4563667. Album Review by Jane Mann)

This second collection of reworked tunes from the Blue Note archives reminded me of the samplers of my youth. You recognise a few names and the rest – well you hope you will discover some great new musicians to look out for.

This album is performed by a broad sweep of artists from the younger end of the R&B, soul and jazz scenes. Surprisingly to me, many tracks are actual songs, with an emphasis on the soul and R&B side of things. The choice of Blue Note artists covered is also interesting. There’s a muscular take of Monk’s Epistrophy from 1948 by tuba virtuoso Theon Cross and drummer/producer Emre Ramazanoglu, but the rest of the pieces selected are from the 60s, 70s, a couple from the 90s and two Norah Jones tunes – Don’t Know Why from 2002 sung by Parthenope and Sunrise from 2004 by Cherise Adams-Burnett, lovely voices and both new to me.

There are four Donald Byrd covers. Ned Franc and Jon Moody and their two backing vocalists sound like a whole choir as they present Donald Byrd’s Christo Redentor (1963) as a film soundtrack by Morricone with a funky beat. Venna and Marco Bernardis with vocalist Fabienne Holloway play a later Byrd piece Where Are We Going (1972) in a different cinematic style – classy jazz fusion I can imagine playing behind some film title sequence featuring a night cityscape. There’s Miss Kane from 1973, played in a lush Neil Waters arrangement by Cameron Palmer and his extensive band plus the string section of the Moscow Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and tons of 1970s style jazz flute. Nubiyan Twist use several fine vocalists in their complex arrangement of Byrd’s Through the Noise (1963).

There are two lovely Wayne Shorter tunes. Singer/pianist Reuben James gives us a version of Infant Eyes from 1964, all shimmering piano and ethereal vocals. Bassist Daniel Casimir (who first came to my attention playing with Jean Toussaint) plays a charming version of Lost from 1965 with a terrific quintet: James Copus – trumpet; Richard Spaven – drums; Sarah Tandy – piano and singer Ria Moran (who also sings with Nubiyan Twist on this disc) – definitely a group of talents to watch.

I was surprised to come across one of my favourite Neil Young tunes – Harvest Moon, nicely performed here by Maya Delilah – apparently Cassandra Wilson recorded a version for Blue Note in 1995. The excellent Kay Young performs another unexpected song – an arrangement of Roberta Flack’s Feel Like Making Love, inspired by the Marlena Shaw version for Blue Note in 1974.

Honourable mention for Yazz Ahmed’s reinvention of a Chick Corea tune from 1969, and for Binker Golding’s energetic Joe Lovano reimagining. Together with the bonkers Theon Cross Monk arrangement, these three tracks to me capture the spirit of the old Blue Note innovators.

TRACK LISTING

  1. Yazz Ahmed – It

from Chick Corea Is (1969)

  1. Conor Albert – You Make Me Feel So Good

from Bobbi Humphrey Fancy Dancer (1975)

  1. Parthenope – Don’t Know Why

from Norah Jones Come Away with Me (2002)

  1. Swindle – Miss Kane

from Donald Byrd Street Lady (1973)

  1. Nubiyan Twist – Through the Noise (Chant No.2)

from Donald Byrd A New Perspective (1963)

  1. Ego Ella May – The Morning Side of Love

from Chico Hamilton Peregrinations (1975)

  1. Oscar Jerome & Oscar #Worldpeace – (Why You So) Green With Envy

from Grant Green Green Street (1961)

  1. Daniel Casimir ft. Ria Moran – Lost

from Wayne Shorter The Soothsayer (1965)

  1. Theon Cross – Epistrophy

from Thelonious Monk Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 1 (1948)

  1. Maya Delilah – Harvest Moon

from Cassandra Wilson New Moon Daughter (1995)

  1. Kay Young – Feel Like Making Love

from Marlena Shaw Who Is This Bitch, Anyway? (1974)

  1. Venna & Marco Bernardis – Where Are We Going

from Donald Byrd Black Byrd (1972)

  1. Reuben James – Infant Eyes

from Wayne Shorter Speak No Evil (1964)

  1. Binker Golding – Fort Worth

from Joe Lovano From the Soul (1991)

  1. Cherise – Sunrise

from Norah Jones Feels Like Home (2004)

  1. Franc Moody – Cristo Redentor

from Donald Byrd A New Perspective (1963)

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