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Artist Profiles

Jazz Honors The Beatles

By Published: September 30, 2009
There never was and will never be another band that I loved as much as The Beatles. I was eight when I bought Rubber Soul, my first album purchase ever. The magisterial excitement of that moment, as I gazed at the four long faces staring back at me from the record bin, handed the clerk $2.97, and dashed home to put it on my record player, will never leave me. The Beatles were the first at many things, including: destroying the division between high and low art, introducing Indian music into the pop realm, combining pop, avant-garde, and classical impulses in meaningful ways. Their humor was joyous, politics righteous, their tunes and harmony were gorgeous, exhilarating, new. Like great jazz players they were always evolving, not satisfied with the status quo. Each new record felt like a blast of fresh air—I'd spin it for days, trying to dress like them, think like them. I stopped listening to them for many years, but it all came back to me when I did the Harrison on Harrison CD of all George Harrison music. I chose him partly because he was an underdog, but they were all absurdly brilliant.

class="f-right s-img">—Joel Harrison
Joel Harrison
Joel Harrison
b.1957
guitar, electric



In 1966, when I was 8 years old, John Lennon said, "We're more popular than Jesus now. I don't know which will go first—rock and roll or Christianity." I was living in the South when he dropped that devil of a quote and pretty soon Beatles music was banned and people were stomping on their albums and Beatles material. This reaction proved a windfall for me, because my GODfather gathered his daughter's entire Beatles album collection and released the devil's music on me. I promptly put the first record on my player, got on my drum set, and pretended I was Ringo.

When I heard "Revolution," "A Long and Winding Road," and "Let it Be" I realized they were the first examples of pop-fusion music. The Beatles fused melodicism and harmony with the spirit of rock and roll. I was writing songs at an early age, so I incorporated this 'fusion' in my compositions. They paved the way for experimentation in the studio—whether it's Lennon doing a vocal track lying on the floor to create a different sound, they just let it be. When I'm in the studio, I keep that spirit of experimentation. Whatever goes!

I see their body of work mirror the arc of great jazz musicians. Their music changed from song to song and record to record. The Fab Four has inspired me to keep high standards of creativity with every project that I undertake.

class="f-right s-img">—John Beasley
John Beasley
John Beasley

piano





I think the Beatles were the most influential band in pop music history. Think about it, their music is known all around the world and to this day their music is still on the radio and TV commercials daily. The main four members were only a band for about 7 years and changed the face of music in that short time. Forty years later they still have a mystique and fan base that will probably never be topped.

If you look at the evolution of what the Beatles sounded like from Please Please Me to Let It Be, their sound completely changed. The one absolutely amazing thing that they did was they took their fans with them on their musical journey. How many bands/musicians can evolve so much in a short time and not only keep their fan base but grow it? To me that is amazing.

So much of their song writing was from an era where songs were truly songs, that's why so many jazz artists have recorded Beatles tunes. Melodies, chord changes, and actual song structure. Because of that their songs will last forever because many of them are not trendy and time period based.

I personally have recorded five Beatles tunes and I am sure I will record more.

"Come Together" on Wood (Artistry Music); "Let 'Em In" on Wood II (Artistry Music); "And I Love Her" on Brombo (King Records, Japan); "Day Tripper," "Yesterday," "Eleanor Rigby" on Hands (King Records, Japan)

To me their body of work is tremendous and there is always something you can do arrangement wise with a great melody. Plus, being a bassist it is awesome to me that Paul McCartney is also a bassist. He also spent a fair amount of time in my home Town of Tucson, AZ. I hope I get to meet him one day!

class="f-right s-img">—Brian Bromberg
Brian Bromberg
Brian Bromberg
b.1960
bass




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