John Stetch: TV Trio (2009)
With TV Trio, pianist John Stetch lays the groundwork for reinstituting jazz as part of the mainstream: pop-culture consciousness. Stetch, bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Rodney Green interpret 12 vintage TV theme songs. Some are instantly recognizable due to the faithfulness of the arrangements. Others are a little harder to decipher, Stetch taking inspiration from a basic element of the composition and molding it into his own, unique creation.
Stetch's approach on some of the selections might surprise, if not agitate; the presence of "Dallas" might lead one to believe that Stetch would deliver a jazz version of the tune worthy of the soaring, epic original theme. However, the trio turns it into a brooding ballad. But there's plenty of energy to go around, especially on rousing interpretations of themes from "Star Trek," "The Price is Right" and "The Love Boat." The group even ventures into slightly modal territory, namely with the rendition of the theme from "The Six Million Dollar Man." Working from a melody that's lasts just under ten seconds, the trio expands it into a nearly six-minute exploration that would have made McCoy Tyner proud.
The cooled-out, nourish take on "The Flintstones" sounds like something that would fit right into the soundtrack of a '60s French New Wave movie! Stetch's sense of humor shines through with his reading of the theme from the vintage animated series "The Mighty Hercules," which he translates as a solemn, Bill Evans-esque ballad that could go under the alternate title "The Sensitive Hercules."
This album pays tribute to the main foundation of the early bebop era, where musicians would take a popular song and "jazz it up," generating with average listeners a level of familiarity that might open their minds to a new musical style. TV Trio, as well as anything that reminds people that jazz and pop culture go hand in hand, does a great service to the genre.
Track Listing: The Waltons; This Is It (Bugs Bunny); Star Trek; Dallas; Love Boat; The Six Million Dollar Man; Rocky and Bullwinkle; The Mighty Hercules; The Price Is Right; All My Children; The Flintstones; Sanford and Son.
Personnel: John Stetch: piano; Doug Weiss: bass; Rodney Green: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz