In a departure from the greater part of their popular introductory series "Talkin' Verve," legendary jazz label Verve Records has released this collection of '60s pop covers by some of their greatest jazz legends. Though all 16 tracks have been previously released on the label (proving their contention that "jazz didn't expose pop music in the sixties; it just covered it"), it is odd if not startling to hear some of the pairings reproduced on this collection.
For example, while one might not think twice about Chet Baker trying his hand at the horn-heavy Ides of March tune "Vehicle," it might be a bit more over the edge to hear Baker's rendition of the Willie Bobo/Carlos Santana hit "Evil Ways." As well it should be! Though Baker made magic with American Songbook standards such as "My Funny Valentine" and "Imagination," it takes some imagination to separate his take on the Woodstock classic from Muzak.
On the other hand, the album also demonstrates the well-picked pairing of James Brown and Quincy Jones, whose easy organ run through "I Got You (I Feel Good)" lacks the fire of the Godfather's original, but still keeps it's soul and even includes an appropriate gospel revival break. That Jones recorded an entire album of Brown's hits (1965's Quincy's Got a Brand New Bag ) demonstrates the respect and love Jones had for his Soul Brother #1, and these two tracks, though heavier on the blues than the rhythm, are fitting tributes.
Also prominent on the album are Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Smith and Willie Bobo himself. Kenny Burrell even takes a shot at Buffalo Springfield's gentle "Everydays." Though other-minded and at times over-touted by the liner notes, the tracks most often work and offer new and different perspectives on pop classics from some of jazz's most prescient and profound seers.