Jazz Music Meets the Beatles

Thurs. 3/3 at noon: Mark Weber spins jazz renditions of the Beatles.

Remember the Beatles? 'Course you do. You'd have to have been on Mars to not have heard them, or one of the Unborn. They took the U.S. by steam roller. I remember age 12 sitting in the Grove Theater (Upland, California, July 1964) hearing that guitar chord opening the movie HARD DAYS NIGHT (F with a G on top?) -- I was transfixed. Up till that point it was the largest stereo any of us had ever heard. Huge chord, huge movie theater speakers. Blew us out of our seats. Turned some of us immediately into huge jazz affectionados.

We went in search of that chord.

On the Thursday jazz radio show today we'll be playing Beatles music as rendered by half-befuddled, wrong generation, sometimes upon unsure footing, sometimes flummoxed, sometimes reluctant jazz musicians of the time. Scrambling to pay the rent they had to get on board the Beatle tsunami or take jobs as night watchmen. The Beatles exuberance and optimism was the name of the game and the huge wave of post-war (WWII) baby boomers were ripe for picking. We were teenagers. Transistor radios were issued to each and everyone one of us to make sure we were properly brainwashed en masse. (I've been in de-programming sessions for years, my therapist says I need a few more years.)

Jazz went underground in the 1960s. By the end of the 60s it was practically non-existent. Rock & Roll defined a generation and jazz was only about 2% of the equation. I was a mutant at my high school walking around with my Herbie Mann Lp MEMPHIS UNDERGROUND. Not that I didn't adore the Beatles, too. I have all of their albums. It's great great music. Their sound was all-pervasive.

So, jazz took a detour into Beatleland, for a minute. Sitting on a cornflake, waiting for the band to come. I hope you like this exploration, sometimes kooky, sometimes quaint, often baffling, it becomes apparent that nobody does the Beatles better than the Beatles. Maybe I'll even tell the story of the day I ran into Paul McCartney in Hollywood. (Though, you'll have to catch me at the cookie platter at the Outpost to hear the real uncensored version.) I hope you have a sentimental streak and I hope you have a sense of humor, as Wavy Gravy says: "If you don't have a sense of humor, then it just isn't funny anymore!"

Like the album of pop songs Gerry Mulligan released in July 1965 he called IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM, JOIN 'EM (Limelight Records) with a photo of Gerry shrugging on the inside gatefold. We'll be playing some items from this gem, indubitably.

It'll be like an anthropological excursion. Ethnological. We'll be what Bob Dylan calls us in his tremendous memoir CHRONICLES (don't believe the unctuous reviews in The New Yorker, they're wrong)(and Bob isn't too shabby as an ethnomusicologist, himself) anyway, Bob calls us: musical expeditionaries. He's got my number.

Now, about that chord. I wrote jazz guitar maestro Lewis Winn and asked him what he'd call that opening chord on "Hard Day's Night" -- Gadd9sus4? -- G7sus4? -- that it would be presumptuous and/or ridiculous for me to venture too deep into the mysteries. O, great swami of the Fender and Gibson please advise.

Lewis wrote back:

Ol' Paint,

Ah yes, the age old question.

There are more notes than one guitar can produce of course but the aggregate effect is G7sus4.

No 9s were detected by my internal chord sniffing device.

So see, you actually do know what you're talking about and it would be ridiculous for you to claim otherwise.

Accept yourself.

Lemme know when it's published.

I have little interest in anyone but the Beatles doing their material but I have great interest in your ditties.

Lewis.......................................... (email 2/25/11)