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Artist Profiles

Jazz Honors The Beatles

By Published: September 30, 2009
I didn't realize it until mixing my CD Narrow Margin 40 years later that this record had more influence on the way that I hear music in general than anything else, and is in all likelihood the reason I gravitated to the guitar. The great songwriting, density of textures and the amount of activity on many tracks, and the sheer number of different colors in the orchestration became the blueprint for what music is to me. Of course I had no way of knowing at the time that Sgt. Peppers was exceptional in this way vis-à-vis other records.

class="f-right s-img">—Andrew Green
Andrew Green

guitar





The Beatles' musical influence on American culture was all-pervasive. Not only the music, but also their "mop-topped" look transformed the way America dressed and cut their hair! Hair, the musical, is a perfect example of that influence. As usual for the rock and soul bands of that time, their own influence was Black American music, so it was interesting to see how, through their own prism, something truly unique was born.

The songs and lyrics were simple, yet each and every one had a phrase, a word, a chord change that was just brilliant and, with the addition of George Martin as producer, they forever set the bar for the pop music of the '60s and thereafter.

Growing up in that same era, I couldn't help but be influenced by their records you would hear them all day on the radio and couldn't get them out of your head... they were some of the first pop records that I took seriously. Besides the great songs and production, they played and sang so well together—it was really a group with a symbiotic affinity much like Coltrane's classic quartet—there were no weak links.

In 1966 I took my first trip to Europe and Asia with the Indiana University Big Band. We landed at Heathrow for a day of sightseeing and lo and behold, from a second floor balcony at the airport, we looked down and there they were (!) just milling around the airport together—we couldn't believe our luck in seeing them—they were dressed super mod and each had a walking stick... just too cool. On that same trip, some of us spent a day at the beach in Beirut after taking LSD (my one and only "trip!"). I went back to the hotel room and eventually listened to "You Won't See Me" from Rubber Soul over and over and over...

Later on in 1974, Mike and I toured Japan with the Plastic Ono Super-Band featuring Yoko Ono, a tour "sponsored" by John during the time he was having the affair with his secretary May Pang (who later worked for the Brecker Bros office), and that was as close as we got to playing with The Beatles, but that tour was a lot of fun.

Also, Steve Gadd
Steve Gadd
Steve Gadd
b.1945
drums
, Rick Marotta, Don Grolnick
Don Grolnick
Don Grolnick
1947 - 1996
piano
and Steve Khan were in the band. Mike and I both did some recording with John right before he was shot, and played on a Paul McCartney session. Also when I was doing some ghostwriting for Arif Mardin in the '70s, Arif handed me a bunch of tracks on tape with lead sheets that needed horns. I asked him who might be singing on the tracks because that might help me in the writing of the charts. He said rather brusquely "Oh, I don't know, maybe Aretha, maybe Carly or Bette, or maybe Ringo (!), we'll figure that out later!... "I said "thanks for narrowing it down!" :) ...so maybe there's a Ringo track out there with some Brecker Bros. horns on it!

class="f-right s-img">—Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker
Randy Brecker
b.1945
trumpet



As a child I fell in love with the later compositions of the Beatles, especially "Eleanor Rigby" and "Yesterday," both written by Paul McCartney. But of course the "bassist" would be the most melodic one in the band. ;-)

class="f-right s-img">—Rodney Whitaker
Rodney Whitaker
Rodney Whitaker
b.1968
bass, acoustic





The music of The Beatles has had an impact on my writing and my appreciation of their music. I must admit that for many years I never considered myself a fan of The Beatles and I actually became more interested in exploring and studying their music as I heard jazz musicians record and perform some of their compositions like "Eleanor Rigby," "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Blackbird." The Beatles have written many songs with simple melodies and pretty harmonic movements and I enjoy the simplicity of their music. Throughout the history of music, the songs with longevity are quite often the ones with simple melodies and this is why I like the music of The Beatles.

class="f-right s-img">—Carl Allen
Carl Allen
Carl Allen
b.1961
drums



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