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John Daversa overlays crazy big band jazz onto Beatles classics - AXS

Believe it or not, there are many people who don’t get the Beatles — at all. Musicians are another matter; almost every one cites the Fab Four as a major influence, if not the reason for forming a band and going on the road.

Award-winning trumpeter John Daversa spins a different kind of Beatles in his May 6, 2016 BFM Jazz release, one everyone can get behind. His orchestral maneuvers show a million and one reasons why musicians and a majority of discerning music fans worship all things Beatles, and why this iconic British rock band set trends back in an era where safe was the norm (circa, the white picket fence ‘50s).

Daversa’s Kaleidoscope Eyes features no less than 40 some odd musicians in a lavish orchestra set to 11 Beatles hits on eight tracks — recorded live Jan. 6-7, 2015 at San Pedro, Calif.’s Alva’s Showroom. “Good Day Sunshine,” “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Michelle,” “And I Love Her…” Sound familiar? Not here.

Tucked in among the big band features are modern touches like a totally inventive Katisse vocal rap in “I Saw Her Standing There.” “Michelle” dives in and out of jazz reality, in an otherworldly musical soundtrack.

Not only is Daversa an expert trumpeter who can handle his way from a solo to a big band replay, but he’s also on EVI and vocals on this new recording. He plays conductor, director, and handles the arrangements, overseeing the integration of his orchestral vision in a live setting with full-blown horn, rhythm, string, and choir sections.

That’s an awful lot of firepower for Beatles covers. But again, Daversa and the millions of informed fans like him don’t hear the Beatles the same as the average teenybopper might hear a Selena Gomez or Taylor Swift nowadays. There’s always more to the Beatles than another light, catchy pop groove.

The Beatles, led by songwriters Paul McCartney (considered the more commercial of the group) and John Lennon, always left their music open for wide interpretation, in terms of meaning, construct, and style. It’s not a surprise that many, many bands since have taken to doing artful, inventive covers.

Daversa’s is perhaps one of the more relatable and impressive. He doesn’t hold back, elongating a three-minute pop song into a nine- to 10-minute soundtrack of our lives through several generations (“Michelle” goes on forever, on a trumpet high, backed by romantic strings and free jazz, percussive riffs).

The Kaleidoscope Eyes band members are many. They include vocalists Katisse Buckingham (tenor sax) and Renee Olstead, treading lightly and grounding the often far-out advances; percussionist Joe Martone; pianist Tommy King; violinist Gina Kronstadt; trombonists Paul Young and Alex Iles; and Jeff Driskill, Phil O’Connor, Tom Peterson, Phil Feather, Bob Carr, and Nancy Newman on sax and woodwinds.

Daversa comes to the recording with a lot under his belt: a Herb Alpert Award, a final cut into the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, lots of exposure on major venues — “The Today Show, “ Monterey Jazz Festival, Montreux, Playboy, and work with Fiona Apple, Sheryl Crow, the Yellowjackets, and Herbie Hancock.

Daversa’s previous album is 2011’s Junk Wagon: The Big Band Album, which earned “Best In Show” and other awards for creativity in the Global Music Awards.

Carol Banks Weber


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