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Jazz Honors The Beatles

Michael Ricci By

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My introduction to the Beatles came much later than the '60s, more the '80s, for me. I was a young girl when they first exploded on the scene, and my two sisters and I had a vocal group singing three part harmony to the Andrew Sisters and Maguire Sisters songs. So I missed that period. But when it hit me, I totally fell in love, musically and lyrically. They definitely inspired me to take chances, to be different and honest with myself as an artist. To this day I still perform their songs, and recorded "Drive my Car" on a previous CD. What a gift they have been no matter what your musical orientation is. They individually and collectively changed the landscape... long live the Beatles!

Cathy Rocco

I've always admired the Beatles as a group, as musicians, as writers. I grew up listening to all kinds of music, especially classical, which involved a lot of harmony and intricate chords. I guess you could say that's what drew me to the Beatles... their awesome harmonys, and the chord progressions. They had a freedom in their music that I think every artist can relate to. If they impacted me and my music in any way, it was and still is the sheer fact to continue to be myself, and to keep going in the music that I truly love.

Jaimee Paul

I've genuinely enjoyed listening to the Beatles recordings for years (still do!) as well as introducing my children to them along the way. Of course, The Beatles impact on legions of pop musicians/songwriters is simply undeniable. However, I have to admit if they have influenced my writing in any way its certainly minimal and I'm completely unconscious of it—unlike, say, the influence of late '60s/'70s R&B/Funk artists (Stevie Wonder/Sly) or even some of the folk artists of the time (James Taylor/Paul Simon). Now that's not to say the Beatles didn't have an impact on my career in any way. I remember hearing Sgt. Pepper's for the first time in 8th grade just as I joined my first rock band (...my one and only "gig" as a drummer!!). I wore that album out—thoroughly enchanted by the variety of colors and completely unique sound achieved through the combination of the group with orchestral instruments and creative recording techniques. I wasn't writing at that point yet; but my fascination with that recording and those aspects may well have stimulated my move in that direction not too long thereafter.

Chuck Owen

To ask how the Beatles impacted my musical expression is like asking how water impacts a fishes way of swimming. I was raised from age 5 on a steady diet of Beatles, I sang along with every tune. As a teenager, I picked out guitar parts and harmonized their songs with friends at parties, at the beach. We smoked pot and wore our copies of Rubber Soul, Revolver, The White Album, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club thin. Although perhaps the influence of Paul Simon or Joni Mitchel or even Harold Arlen may be more noticeable in my style at times, upon reflection, perhaps I should trace my sense of arrangement, my taste for eclecticism and my sense of what a good song is, my need for tension, emotion and theatricality in arrangements back to the Beatles. A song like "A Day in the Life" ...it's pop, it's classical, it's theater, it's even jazz in many ways. I love story songs and they were kings at that. I love a cacophony that resolves. They were into that.

For me, in great music, melody and rhythm rule together, and are driven by an urgent spiritual or emotional need, expression or intention. From the teeny-bopper love anthem "I love You Yeah Yeah Yeah" to the soul searching "Within You Without You" the Beatles fearlessly revealed their evolution and affected my evolution without my even knowing it. Lennon's emotional honesty and courage as a songwriter mentored me invisibly. Back then, I never even noticed his courage. I think, because I was too young to connect to him as a person. I just connected to his songs. McCartney's too. "Blackbird" is a beautiful prayer I've played for thirty years and never tired of. Recently I revisited the song "Within You Without You." I stripped it down to just African hand drums and voice. It really works that way. The words have a lot of power.

...I'd never noticed before how deep those lyrics were cause the original got layered behind so much production. For sure my taste for Indian music and for mixing genres and creating soundscapes can be traced at least in part to their adventurous approach to arrangements. ( I think my exposure to Bernstien's West Side Story also takes some credit here). Sure, lots of their songs, of course, are just simple pop tunes, but so many of are also classics that bear the test of time, and like all good poems, they change meaning each year if I revisit them. Not sure if I've answered the question really. I don't listen to them that all much any more, but one thing is clear, I simply cannot imagine my musical life without the Beatles. They were just always there.

Jana Herzen

Of all pop/rock bands in history, the Beatles created the greatest collection of outstanding melodies and innovative chord progressions. Compared to the three or four chord songs of their contemporaries, this music revolutionized pop music. Because of the sophistication of their songs, jazz and classical musicians have been able to reinterpret their material through a staggering array of arrangements and orchestrations. Few songs in pop history have stood up to the test of being successfully performed and recorded as instrumentals.

[Free MP3: Download Chuck Anderson's "Eleanor Rigby / Norweigian Wood Medley."

Chuck Anderson Advisory Board Member of The Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts

John and Paul could just write a good tune. Tight, economical, tuneful, bluesy undertones.

Here's a video of my sextet Liquid Jazz reinterpreting the lyrical Norwegian Wood.

Long live the Fab 4 (maestro Martin)!

Rick Hirsch

The Beatles were music's perfect storm. While we all watched in amazement, they defined a generation of pop music and culture. The Fab Four influenced virtually every other musician on the planet with their distinct combination of songwriting, performing, wit and charisma. Each member brought something special to the band as a whole, and George Martin was just the right individual to seize the chemistry and wrap it up in such an appealing package. Simple, yet sophisticated. Edgy, yet accessible. British, yet universal. Yes, the Beatles were music's perfect storm, and their legend continues to captivate and amaze us.

Kam Falk

I was lucky enough to play on sessions with both Paul McCartney and George Harrison. George ended up inviting me to play piano his 52nd Birthday Party at his house. He was a real gentleman, a great songwriter and it was really inspiring to meet someone so famous, and yet so "NORMAL!!!"

Terry Disley
About The Beatles
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