A Day In The Life: Impressions of Pepper [Impulse!]
This week’s Morning Mari* album of the week is A Day In The Life: Impressions of Pepper out on Impulse! This album is a Jazz tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band featuring Shabaka Hutchings, Onyx Collective, Miles Mosley, Mary Halvorson, Antonio Sanchez, Makaya McCraven, Keyon Harrold and more.
The stellar lineup on A Day In The Life: Impressions of Pepper represents some of the great progressive jazz artists from around the world: Shabaka Hutchings from the UK Jazz scene, Miles Mosley and Cameron Graves from LA’s West Coast Get Down, Onyx Collective from NYC, Makaya McCraven and the JuJu Exchange from Chicago.
Danny Bennett, President & CEO of Verve Label Group played a big part in the A&R process for this record, as a longtime fan of The Beatles and head of the label that is celebrated for its incredible jazz legacy and innovative signings. Bennett says, “In the Summer of 1967, The Beatles released to the world Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and, five decades later, the album remains the gold standard of musical innovation. The record not only changed the course of musical history but defined a generation and remains timeless.”
Bennett continues, “Like a modern, sonic version of the iconic photograph “A Great Day In Harlem,” this recording showcases the most meaningful up-and-coming and established artists that are taking the new jazz scene by storm. Each artist was given the challenge to create a work that would push the musical envelope by presenting an impressionistic rendering of a favorite song from Pepper. I’m proud to say that what you hear are enduring interpretations wholly original, which more than exceeded my expectations.”
What you hear on this record are not covers, but impressions of these iconic songs. A small part of a melody, a subtle bass riff inspired these artists to create something new.
Shabaka Hutchings and his band the Ancestors took on the track “Good Morning Good Morning.” Shabaka says of his process, “I took melodic fragments from throughout the song and used these as starting posts for my imagination to complete the phrases as I saw fit. I tried to see the tube as a mine of raw materials whereby I extract core musical information then process it into what I define as beauty.”
Mary Halvorson, who performs a slightly lilting, distorted version of “With A Little Help From My Friends” says, “My approach…was largely based on memory and nostalgia; rather than sticking closely to the original, I tried to focus on the feeling of timelessness the song inspires, relying on the power of melody and memory, and embracing distortions which may have arisen over time.”
Onyx Collective says, “Recording “Within You Without You” was a very humbling and uplifting opportunity. Of all the great songs on the album, this one felt the most serendipitous for us to vibe out on. We now perform it as a part of our live repertoire.”
Drummer Antonio Sanchez opens the record with a driving, psychedelic, percussive interpretation of the title track. “Playing drums along to Revolver or Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was of my daily routines as an aspiring musician in my early early years, so when the opportunity arose to be part of this project I eagerly accepted.”
Sanchez recorded all the instruments and engineered it himself as well, saying, “The solitude of creating in that fashion in my own recording studio gives me unlimited creative freedom. I applied a 9/4 time signature on certain sections to make it a little bit more my own and overdubbed a few different drum sets with different tunings.”
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was groundbreaking when it was released in 1967, and it’s fitting that Impulse!, the ground-breaking and ever-innovative label that was founded in 1960, will release a tribute to this record over fifty years later.
Having chosen this album as the album of the week, we also had many of the contributors on Worldwide FM as guests and hosts. You can listen to bi-monthly show of Shabaka Hutchings on Worldwide FM here.
1. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (performed by Antonio Sanchez)
2. With A Little Help From My Friends (performed by Mary Halvorson)
3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (performed by Makaya McCraven)
4. Getting Better (performed by Wildflower)
5. Fixing A Hole (performed by Cameron Graves)
6. She’s Leaving Home (performed by Keyon Harrold)
7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! (performed by Brandee Younger)
8. Within You Without You (performed by Onyx Collective)
9. When I’m Sixty Four (performed by Sullivan Fortner)
10. Lovely Rita (performed by Miles Mosley)
11. Good Morning Good Morning (performed by Shabaka & The Ancestors)
12. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) (performed by Antonio Sanchez)
13. A Day In The Life (performed by The JuJu Exchange)