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8 Great Jazz Covers of Pop Songs

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Wednesday March 01, 2017

From Paste

8 Great Jazz Covers of Pop Songs
By: Alexa Peters

Over the last few years, jazzy covers of modern-day pop tunes with accompanying 1920s-style videos have been trending all over the internet. Many of these covers come from a project by pianist and arranger Scott Bradlee, who releases videos under the moniker Postmodern Jukebox that feature modern musicians performing his arrangements while dressed in period clothes.

Despite this recent surge in popularity, covering pop songs and re-arranging them using staples of jazz and swing styles has actually been a trend for a while. Musicians past and present have recognized the harmonic and rhythmic possibilities that jazz can offer the pop canon. Merging these two styles opens up a whole new world for experimental musicians and listeners, alike. So, here are eight recent jazzy covers of pop songs that encapsulate this trend.

3. The Bad Plus, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Another cover worthy of this list is The Bad Plus’ cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The take the grunge classic and meld it with some free jazz risk taking—angular soloing, cacophonic drums and piano, and a buzzy, growling bassline that grows to an alarming crescendo. Though not executed with the same understatement of grunge, The Bad Plus’s cover captures Kurt Cobain’s angst and does it justice.

7. Brad Mehldau, “Blackbird”
Masterful jazz pianist Brad Mehldau shows his versatility on this version of The Beatles’ classic “Blackbird,” arranged for piano, bass and drums. The quiet meandering version captures the metronomic effect of the original, while adding in an extended section of soaring improvisation. Plus, the swinging groove forging forward gives the classic protest song new life.

For the full list click here