Beatle Jazz – Another Bite of the Apple

Beatle JazzBeatle Jazz
Another Bite of the Apple
(Zebra Acoustic – 2001)
by Phyllis A. Lodge

I am often fascinated by other musicians’ takes on the Beatles. Of the trio of musicians on this CD, I am most familiar with bassist Charles Fambrough whose powerful, surging approach was a mainstay for McCoy Tyner’s sextet in the 1980’s. Drummer Brian Melvin, who conceived and co-produced this project with Kikoski, is magnificent throughout the CD.

Dave Kikoski’s piano style is creatively versatile as he dances gracefully through each number, beginning with an Eastern-flavored I’ll Follow the Sun. On Here, There and Everywhere, Kikoski’s piano seems to seems to subtly evoke the feel of a swing-waltz.

To add to the balanced diet of musical entrees on this CD, the trio transitions into a delightfully moving, reggae-inspired Let It Be. Bassist Charles Fambrough moves center stage early in the piece, enhancing this already full-bodied version with his power-packed, articulate grit. Kikoski’s piano melds with Melvin’s tantalizing rhythms to add a depth that deeply satisfies. The, from the deep earth, the trio takes lightly to the air in Give Me Love.

The intro for Michelle made me do a double take with it’s heavy, aromatic feel. Applause for Magical Mystery Tour… Kikoski introduces it with a strait as an arrow approach and then changes gears into the alternatly cavernous then dreamy interlude, reminiscent of the great McCoy Tyner. It Won’t Be Long is a muted affirmation in contrast to the original high-spirited version. I truly enjoy Kikoski’s versatile style; he speaks in tribute to many influences, but he commands his own solid voice.

Blackbird is always a tough call since it has inspired so many great artists to interpret its wistfully forlorn cry… James Taylor, Billy Preston and Bobby McFerrinto name a few. And John Lennon would have been deeply moved by the heavenly treatment of Julia, written in tribute to Lennon’s “Mum”. The Blue Jay Way is also a creative treatment that is done in impeccable “free” style. Drummer Melvin does some fantastic percussion work sounds like a tabla. Tomorrow Never Knows is a haunting, beautiful finishing touch to the CD.

Although I didn’t experience the first “Apple”, the second bite is certainly a tasteful one. I believe our quartet from Liverpool would be gratified by its artistic sensitivity.