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Connie Evingson: Let It Be Jazz: Connie Evingson Sings The Beatles

Dan McClenaghan By

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We orignal diehard Beatles fans—those of us who came of age during and just after the '64 British Invasion—tend to cringe at the mention of Beatles jazz albums. There's a certain sanctity associated with the music of the Fab Four; and who among us hasn't encountered an uninspired and blandly arranged Beatles knock-off?

Certainly there have been some successes: trumpeter Wallace Roney—with Tony Williams' band and on his own—seems to have an affinity for Lennon/McCartney tunes; and the Either/Orchestra just last year recorded a rollicking Latinized verison of George Harrison's "Don't Bother Me (No Me Molesta)." But these are single offerings on otherwise mainstream jazz CDs.

An entire set of Beatles tunes, jazzified?

My cringe was premature; vocalist Connie Evingson's Let it Be Jazz is an inspired, facinating, fresh take on thirteen Lennon/McCartney classics. The songs are rendered in Beatle-esque fashion, not in sound or pop sensibilities, but in the individual treatments given each tune in terms of arrangement—sort of the way John, George, Paul and Ringo were recording albums back in '66.

It's obvious that a great deal of thought and care went into each arrangement, with some interesting Beatle-isms showing up on unexpected tunes: a George Harrison-like sitar behind Evingson's scat chant that opens McCartney's "Blackbird"; a "Come Together" flutter drum on "Can't Buy Me Love."

"The Night Before" from the overlooked Help album is given a reggae treatment and Evingson transforms "Can't Buy Me Love" from the boys' in-you-face statement to a slinky groove. If you don't fall in love with Connie E. when she purrs "I'll give you all I've got to give, if you say you'll love me too," there's no Help for you.

"I'm Looking Through You" features wonderfully laid-back trombone work (by Mike Nelson), like soft thunder rolling around Dave Singley's crackling guitar work.

Evingson's intonation throughout is rich and mellifluous, a counterpoint to Mary Louise Knutson's crisp piano accompaniment. Knutson is a constant in shifting mix of musicians, a perfect percussive glue to hold the sound together.

And a bonus: a great cover photo, Evingson looking sassy and sixty-ish (the decade, not her age) in basic black, holding a polkadot umbrella and wearing Beatles boots. Oh Darlin!

There's a Beatles song (not on this CD) entitled "Don't Let Me Down." Connie Evingson doesn't. In fact, you could say—paraphrasing that song's lyric—she done it good. Actually, she done it excellent.

Track Listing: Blackbird, Wait, The Night Before, Can't Buy Me Love, From Me to You, Fixing a Hole, When I'm 64, I'm Looking Through You, For No One, I Will, Oh! Darlin,' Got to Get You Into My Life, Good Day Sunshine

Personnel: Connie Evingson—vocals; Mary Louise Knutson, Fulton Tashone—piano; Terry Burns, Anthony Cox, Doug White—bass; Jay Epstein, Phil Hey, Marc Rio—drums; Dave Singley, Dean Magraw—guitars; Dean Magraw—electric sitar; Dave karr, Kathy Jenson—sax; Mike Nelson—trombone;Daryl Boudreaux—percussion; Dan Chouinard—accordion

Title: Let It Be Jazz: Connie Evingson Sings The Beatles | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Summit Records

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