by: Hans-Bernd Hulsmann
The title and cover of this album are eccentric not only for a jazz album. Nevertheless, it is ingenious to name a jazz album Frankenstein. It’s understandable when you recognize Wayne Alpern’s approach. Wayne is a master at breathing new life into familiar tunes from whatever genre.
The New York based composer, arranger and scholar is very well known among critics, judging by the numerous reviews. His ideas are implemented by well-known musicians, who are listed in detail under Credits.
The album opens with a cover of Carole King’s You Got A Friend. A song of timeless beauty whose message and melody touches the heart. At the beginning you don’t recognize the song, but the voice of the announcer seems familiar. Then the winds set in and the well-known melody miraculously crystallizes.
With Thinking Out Loud Ed Sheeran has struck it lucky, because with this song he has written himself into the annals of pop history. In the implementation, the leitmotif is distributed in alternating positions among all the instruments involved, which gives a decentralized impression.
Ain’t That Peculiar is a typical Motown song recorded by American soul musician Marvin Gaye for the Tamla (Motown) label. In terms of rhythm, dictation and performance, it corresponded to the recipe for success of the time, to which the composer Smokey Robinson also subscribed. Wayne Alpern’s men bring the song across authentically.
Stephen Sondheim has written Send In The Clowns for the musical A Little Night Music (1973). The attractive song became soon a hit by interpretations of Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins and that way the song became a jazz standard. It is in this sense that Wayne Alpern understands it.
The jazz standard Cantaloupe Island was written by Herbie Hancock in 1964. The song was made famous across genres by the group Us3, who achieved platinum status with their hip hop version. In contrast, Wayne’s interpretation is rock solid, technically perfect but not of that genius.
Duke Ellington composed the jazz standard Black Beauty in 1928. One notices Wayne’s band’s joy in playing, which is expressed in the jubilant character of the various solos. Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together (1971) became a hit and was even copied by Tina Turner. The band keeps it casual and surprises the listener with nice details.
Dancing In The Street was originally recorded by Martha & the Vandellas (1964) and often covered, for example by Mick Jagger and David Bowie. The surprising entry into a rap version in the middle of the song, is probably a matter of taste.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is known as a composer of worldwide rank of numerous musicals. The song All I Ask of You is from the famous musical Phantom of the Opera (1998). Wayne Alpern creates a jazz piece with waltz character from this well-known template.
More Than Yesterday (1968) is a song written by Pat Upton and performed by Spiral Starecase, of which Upton was the lead singer. This popular song was often covered for example by Diana Ross. The original cheerfulness also comes through well in Wayne’s brilliantly arranged interpretation.
Gimme Some Lovin’ was performed for the first time by the Spencer Davis Group in 1967. The soulful voice of Stevie Winwood set new standards at the time. In particular, the horns from Wayne’s team bring remarkable moments to the game.
Wayne Alpern delivers with Frankenstein unconventional reinterpretations of popular songs, which leave plenty of room for the participating musicians to develop their own ideas.
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Artist: Wayne Alpern
Genre: Contemporary Jazz
Label: Henri Elkan Music
1.You’ve Got A Friend (Carole King) 5:50
2.Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran) 4:16
3.Ain’t That Peculiar (Marvin Gaye) 3:36
4.Send In The Clowns (Stephen Sondheim) 3:44
5.Cantaloupe Island (Herbie Hancock) 4:53
6.Black Beauty (Duke Ellington) 4:29
7.Let’s Stay Together (Al Green) 5:30
8.Dancing In The Street (Martha & The Vandellas) 4:10
9.All I Ask of You (Andrew Lloyd Webber) 4:21
10.More Than Yesterday (Spiral Staircase) 3:38
11.Gimme Some Lovin’ (Steve Winwood) 3:39
David Mann: reeds (all tracks)
John Patitucci: bass (all tracks)
Clint DeGanon: drums (all tracks)
Andy Ezrin: keyboards (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
Tatum Greenblatt: trumpet (2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11)
Brad Mason: trumpet (1, 4, 5, 6 )
Mike Boscarino: trombone (1, 4, 5, 6)
Mike Davis: trombone (2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 11)
Kevin Ramessar: guitar (10, 11)