Annual Verve Remixed projects match up trip-hop and electronic music producers with historic treasures from the label's vaults in order to update or contemporize them. This third volume predominantly features female vocalists like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington, and Anita O'Day, from among whom Sarah Vaughan gleefully steals the show.
RSL, a sound production team from Manchester UK, reconstructs Anita O'Day's "Sing, Sing, Sing, a Benny Goodman staple written by Louis Prima, smartly repositioning the skittering drums and ascending piano riff as the toe-tapping fulcrum from which O'Day's vocal swings.
The first male jazz performer (nine tracks in!) cooks up a storm: "Stay Loose, a rare track with vocals by Hammond organist Jimmy Smith (he sounds just like Les McCann) remixed to boiling by Lyrics Born, bubbling up its hot-tempered boogaloo drum beat and Smith's unmistakably soulful playing and singing. 3 also features Detroit's Carl Craig, one of the most progressive dancefloor experimentalists in one of the electronic music capitals of the US, with a kaleidoscopic cut-and-paste of the title track of Hugh Masakela's 1975 tribute to Fela Kuti, The Boys Doin' It.
But Miss Sarah brings the real good stuff. Max Sedgley lifts "Peter Gunn from the Quincy Jones-produced Sarah Vaughan Sings the Mancini Songbook and plunges Mancini's classic walking piano/bass line and Vaughan's sassy vocal in a cold, deep bucket of echo and attitude. Another genre pioneer, Adam Freeland, whips up Vaughan's "Fever with additional electric bass and guitar and a big stomping beat that almost drives you onto the dance floor.
Other combinations don't work so well. The electronic baubles and snappy beat in which Postal Service cast the title track to Simone's debut album Little Girl Blue just don't sound right around the raw dark agony of Simone's voice, and Sugardaddy's treatment of Shirley Horn's "Come Dance with Me sounds like a child's finger-painting, a jumble of bold, bright colors.
Will the Verve Remixed series help introduce classic jazz material to a new, younger, club-going audience? The idea seems worthwhile. Even if it doesn't always work, it still seems worth a try.
Personnel: Nine Simone (Postal Service Remix); Billie Holiday (Bent Remix); Anita O'Day (RSL Remix); Sarah Vaughan (Adam Freeland Remix); Shirley Horn (Sugardaddy Remix); Blossom Dearie (Brazilian Girls Remix); Astrud Gilberto (RJD2 Remix); Sarah Vaughan (Max Sedgley Remix); Jimmy Smith (Lyrics Born Remix); Hugh Masakela (Carl Craig Remix); Nina Simone (The Album Leaf Remix); Billie Holiday (Junior Boys Remix); Dinah Washington (Danger Mouse Remix).