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Revolver remains The Beatles’ definitive artistic moment, though the nostalgia-spiked histories tend to opt for its extravagant Summer of Love followup. But on no other Beatles album was there such a mix of experimentation and unsentimental songcraft, with economical but heady arrangements that deserve the description “definitive”.
Avoiding the nostalgic waxed glow of many jazz vocal interprations, Bay Area iconoclast Ann Dyer honed in on Revolver ’s Hindustani periphery and distant-but-unaffected air for her own “new spin.” With a string-and-percussion-heavy expanded edition of her band No Good Time Fairies, she deconstructs the original arrangements in such a way that each word takes on luminous, concretized properties, particularly on totally-reconstructed versions of “Eleanor Rigby” and “I Want to Tell You”, into which Dyer interpolates a descending line that splits the difference between bebop run and nursery rhyme.
The vocalist spent some amount of time studying with a guru classical North Indian vocal techniques, which she uses coloristically to entrancing effect. “Tomorrow Never Knows” is, not surprisingly, recast in a style that owes much to its original Indian vibe, but “She Said She Said” may be the best example of Dyer’s newly-acquired techniques, as her vocal on the track abruptly shifts from an accusatory and dramatic morphine jazz style to a darkly-languorous exploration of Hindustani melismas. The band as a unit is fully her equal, responding to each other and to her willful metamorphoses with sweetness, shading, or slashing anger, always with a delicate, tense poignancy, bringing out sounds and meanings from the original compositions that are often unexpected.
Tracks: She Said She Said / Good Day Sunshine / Eleanor Rigby / For No One / Taxman / I’m Only Sleeping / Tomorrow Never Knows / Rain / I Want to Tell You / And Your Bird Can Sing.
Personnel: Ann Dyer - vocals / Peter Apfelbaum - tenor sax / Hafez Modirzadeh - karna on track 7 and tenor sax on track 9 / Carla Kihlstedt - violin / Jeff Buenz - electric and acoustic guitars / John Shifflett - electric and acoustic bass / Jason Lewis - trap drums and tabla / Rob Vlack & E. Blake Davis - additional guitars on track 5.