Burt Bacharach – A Tribute by Frank Griffith

Burt Bacharach in Antwerp in 2009. Photo credit: Eddie Janssens / Creative Commons

The very sad news of 20th Century songwriter Burt Bacharach’s death at 94 has resonated strongly in the past few days. Born in Kansas City in 1928, the youthful Bacharach who resided in Kew Gardens, Queens in the 1940s regularly ventured into Manhattan to check out the innovative beboppers of the day.

This would have a lasting influence on his music: the melodies and harmonies of many of his songs were attractive not just to singers such as Diana Krall, Keely Smith, Jack Jones and Frank Sinatra but also to jazz instrumentalists: Stan Getz, Oscar Peterson, Woody Herman and McCoy Tyner come to mind. Songs like A House Is Not A Home, Alfie, Wives And Lovers, What The World Needs Now and One Less Bell To Answer among many others, have been covered by a legion of jazz musicians.

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Two recordings which I treasure in particular are the 1968 LP “What The World Needs Now- Stan Getz Plays Bacharach and David” (arranged by Claus Ogerman) and McCoy Tyner’s 1997 CD “The Music of Burt Bacharach”. Along with Tyner’s piano  were bassist, Christian McBride and Lewis Nash on drums with a full symphony orchestra. arranged by John Clayton. A youthful looking (70 years young) Bacharach attended the session.

A great and innovative musical icon has written his last stanza and I’m sure that jazz artists and arrangers will carry his music on into the future.

Frank Griffith is a saxophonist and arranger based in Liverpool.. His weekly jazz radio show, The Jazz Cavern, can be heard on Thursdays at 9PM (UK time) on

LINK: Andrew Cartmel’s review of Burt Bacharach in London in 2016

Categories: News, Tributes

2 replies »

  1. A nice tribute to the great composer. I’ve been attending jazz gigs in and around London for over thirty years and it’s always surprised me how little Bacharach’s songs are performed. When I’ve asked musicians why they thought that was the case they admitted that it was a lot to do with snobbery, the perception that he was a ‘pop’ composer who was too closely associated with some decidedly non-jazz singers from the 1960s. I hope that after Bacharach’s passing that these apparent prejudices will disappear and more jazz musicians will get their teeth into the delicious chord progressions of gems like ‘The Look Of Love’, ‘Alfie’, ‘Wives And Lovers’ and ‘A House Is Not A Home’, but I won’t be holding my breath.

  2. Nice piece Frank, and I’ll check out the jazz albums you mention. Aside from Dionne Warwick, I think Burt was made for our Dusty.

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