It’s now been forty years since the Beatles broke up. In their short life together (1962-1970, although they stopped touring in 1967) these four musical illiterates (none could read or write music) created and recorded over 300 memorable tunes. During the first week of April 1964, Beatles’ songs held the first five positions of the American Top 10; a week later they occupied 14 of the top 100. Both of these records are unlikely to ever be broken.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney spent hours, initially together, hunting and pecking at melodies and chords on their guitars. Their genius seems to have been knowing when to stop messing about and recording the result.
The current resurgence of interest in the Beatles is not surprising; they wrote good music that is still valid today. I further tested whether John and Paul’s songs would survive the translation to several styles of jazz. This CD is the result.
Gabe Condon, guitar and banjo, is an amazing 18-year-old musician who is fluent on guitar, violin, drums and vocals, in classical, jazz, and rock genres. Most impressive to me is the creativeness, fluidity and maturity of his improvisations, considering that this is a live recording – no second takes!
Jeff Campbell, bass, is an amazing middle-aged musician who performs and records jazz (The Jeff Campbell Trio) and classical music (The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra) at the highest professional level, and is a masterful teacher (professor at the Eastman School of Music) as well.
Brad Paxton, drums, is an amazing older musician who makes any kind of music swing hard. He is in fact an impostor – a Ph.D. Electrical Engineer, not a schooled musician at all. Judge him by what you hear and feel, not by his over-education!
Rod Blumenau, piano and tenor saxophone. Having retired from a career in business, I am approaching my dotage by doing what I love, which is to perform jazz music, and increasingly to arrange and compose it as well.
This is a live recording of our performance Dec. 11, 2009, at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Ingle Auditorium as part of their Performing Artists Concert Series. Live recordings such as this capture the chemistry of performers drawing inspiration from the involvement of an audience. They usually also capture for posterity the small mistakes performers make during a two-hour performance. But when you have three musical cohorts with the uncommon ability to simultaneously read musical arrangements precisely, listen to each other and swing hard, and the sensitive and endlessly creative engineering of Bill Thompson, you get a recording far better than one produced in a studio.