VA – A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper (2018)

VA - A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper (2018)
Artist: Various
Album: A Day In The Life: Impressions Of Pepper
Genre: Jazz Fusion
Released: 2018
Quality: mp3, 320 kbps
Tracklist:
Antonio Sanchez – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (00:02:53)
Mary Halvorson – With a Little Help from My Friends (00:03:08)
Makaya McCraven – Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (00:05:56)
Wildflower – Getting Better (00:04:24)
Cameron Graves – Fixing a Hole (00:04:42)
Keyon Harrold – She’s Leaving Home (00:05:37)
Brandee Younger – Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! (00:06:38)
The Onyx Collective – Within You without You (00:05:16)
Sullivan Fortner – When I’m Sixty-Four (00:03:22)
Miles Mosley – Lovely Rita (00:04:30)
Shabaka & The Ancestors – Good Morning Good Morning (00:05:23)
Antonio Sanchez – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (00:01:47)
The Ju Ju Exchange – A Day in the Life (00:04:49)

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Your heroes have covered the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band since they first heard it. Just days after its release in the spring of 1967, Jimi Hendrix shocked a London crowd with the album’s opening theme with half of the Fab Four in attendance. Joe Cocker turned its affable second track, “With a Little Help from My Friends,” into soul-baring treacle a year later, while Elton John shouted out its lysergic third beauty, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” in the mid-1970s with John Lennon’s help. And so it goes down the tracklist and across generations and genres. At this point, it’s daunting to name an idea more passé than covering these songs, as omnipresent as oxygen or as eternal as Paul McCartney’s avuncular charm.

It’s a good thing, then, that A Day in the Life: Impressions of Pepper is not actually a Beatles cover album. Sure, its 13 tracks sync with the sequence of Sgt. Pepper’s, and you can hear traces of that totemic record in every piece here. But A Day in the Life is instead a full-length interpretation of Sgt. Pepper’s, rendered by some of the most captivating young musicians in the modern jazz orbit. Rather than offering obvious renditions of these standards, the likes of Makaya McCraven, Mary Halvorson, Shabaka Hutchings, and Sullivan Fortner reimagine them in the grandest jazz tradition—as fodder and grist, inspiration for making something else entirely. From sweeping solo piano vamps to cinematic takes bordering on post-rock, these versions treat the originals like colorful clothes worn by today’s most electrifying jazz musicians, who give these old chestnuts a new body and vitality.

Halvorson exemplifies the idea early “With a Little Help from My Friends.” She often plays the guitar in rhythmic and melodic tangles, so that a simply stated theme begins to fold onto itself until it shapes a dense thicket. As she mimics Ringo Starr’s voice with her inimitable tone, the phrases split and tumble until she seems to lose the line. Each time it happens, though, drummer Tomas Fujiwara rushes in to reaffirm the shape. Likewise, harpist Brandee Younger passes on the obvious, harp-laced “She’s Leaving Home” for a complex, intimate arrangement of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” Using the original only as a suggestive framework, Younger turns her harp into the lace between darting flutes and skittering drums. Her take ferries mystery.
by Grayson Haver Currin