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Bruce Springsteen: Boss-A-Nova: Springsteen Plays Jazz

Kyle Simpler By

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Bruce Springsteen: Boss-A-Nova: Springsteen Plays Jazz
Bruce Springsteen is nothing short of a rock legend, but his talent isn't limited solely to "three chords and the truth." During his career, Springsteen has managed to break away and explore different styles. Take, for example, his 1982 album, Nebraska (Columbia), which was something of a departure into the folk music world. Although he continued to record more folk-inspired albums, many of his fans are unaware of his interest in jazz. This should change, however, with the release of Boss-A-Nova: Springsteen Plays Jazz.

For this recording, The Boss used several members of his own band along with some prominent New Jersey jazz players. He named his jazz group The E Minor Seventh Street Band, and they began recording in late 2020. In an interview, Springsteen described how the project came about. "Yeah, I'd been listening to the Getz Gilberto album a lot, and it made me want to check out some other bossa stuff. One day I was playing 'Badlands' on my guitar, and I just threw in a diminished chord, and buddy that's all she wrote!" He knew he was onto something, and he began assembling musicians right away.

The album opens with the track, "Nascido Para Correr" (Born To Run). Instead of the driving, upbeat tempo of the original, this version has the laid back elegance of watching a Brazilian sunset while sipping an icy piña colada. Springsteen is playing vibraphone on this track, and his solo is remarkably brilliant.

Many of the selections are Springsteen classics, such as "Dias de Glória" (Glory Days), "Dançando no Escuro" (Dancing in the Dark), and "Coração Faminto" (Hungry Heart). Springsteen also includes some deeper album cuts. The bossa nova renditions of "Blinded by the Light," "Spirit in the Night," and "Thunder Road" are all outstanding.

Springsteen's guitar work is exceptional. He discusses how he began developing his jazzier style. "Oh man, a couple of years ago, I started listening to cats like Grant Green and Wes [Montgomery], and I figured it would be good for me to figure out how to play some of that stuff. It's really helped my playing. I mean even if I never make another jazz album again, learning this stuff has made me a better player."

While the majority of the album features Springsteen originals, he closes with an excellent bossa nova arrangement of "Louie Louie." While this might seem like an unusual selection, Bruce explains how it is actually a sensible choice. "You know, we all grew up playing it ['Louie Louie'] without really knowing the song's background. It was originally a cha cha by René Touzet called 'El Loco Cha Cha,' and I checked out the original. I just thought it would be an easy transition into bossa nova. Well, we were just jammin' to it, and it seemed like a perfect fit."

Boss-A-Nova presents a side of this talented artist few have previously seen. Will there be more jazz in the future? That's hard to say. However, Springsteen's interest in branching out from rock and roll seems to be sure. Due to the initial response of this album, he began work on a reggae album, tentatively entitled Tenth Avenue Dreadlock.

Track Listing

Nascido Para Correr; Dias de Glória; Dançando no Escuro; Coração Faminto; Estrada Trovão; Cego pela luz; Espírito na noite; Louie Louie.

Personnel

Bruce Springsteen: composer/conductor.

Album information

Title: Boss-A-Nova: Springsteen Plays Jazz | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: April First Records

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