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Classical music covered by jazz musicians

Van Basten II

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As i mentionned in another thread i'm currently listening to my freshly acquired Jazz Crusaders boxset. Among the pieces that i enjoyed was the way they did Brahms' lullaby. Which they did it in a fine swinging way

So i thought about making a thread about famous or less famous classical pieces that have been done with success by jazz musicians.

Other example that come to mind, i remember Jackie Terranson doing Ravel's Bolero that got some air time on local jazz outlets.

Uri Caine made a few great albums with Mahler's music also.

Another great jazz cover is Aldo Romano doing Verdi's Va Pensiero, Sull' Ali Dorate, in a free jazz way on the album Intervista.

So, what are your favourite covers of this style.

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ike quebec's bossa nova soul samba has two nice "classical covers", things by Liszt and Dvorak iirc;

one that i didn't like that much is brahms lullaby on Clark Terry's Moodsville Quartet Album with Junior Mance...

i also like Uri Caine's Mahler album

Edited by Niko
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Covered? Or just played by?

Was Landa Wandowska covering Scarlatti every time she played one of his compositions?


now tell us you didn't get what he meant... besides i think he wanted to exclude stuff like benny goodman doing Mozart's clarinet concerto... (and classical musicians and their relationship to the music they are playing and "what their message is" beyond the level of "this sounds good" is an issue deserving lots of discussion on its own imho)

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Vivaldi's Four Seasons was done by Raymond Fol in 1965 for Philips ( on CD as part of Gitanes Jazz in Paris series )

Edit to add : Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf by Jimmy Smith in 1966 ( arrangements by Oliver Nelson ) .

Edited by Chas
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recently I've seen this phenomenon occuring in several places. I saw Ornette play the Bach Cello Suite #1 with his three bass band + Denardo. Tony Falanga plays the famous arco part on bass. This was particularly riveting as I saw Ornette do it once before in another concert on the East Coast. If anyone has a recent live bootleg of an Ornette show with this band, please send me a PM.

Also, the pianist Helen Sung (who happens to be the 2007 Winner of the Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition, an inaugural student in the Monk Institute's Jazz Perfomance program when it was at NEC and a former very serious classical pianist) just made a beautiful record on Sunnyside on which she covers/plays variations on the music of the lesser known 19th century Spanish composer Isaac Albeniz. This CD is not something I'm working in my role as a publicist - I was just so blown away by the CD and then again seeing her live in DC at Blues Alley - I felt I should make mention of her.

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There are two fun compilations on the French Saga Jazz label:




Volume 1

01 Interprétation Swing du 1er mouvement du Concerto en ré mineur Eddie South

02 Bach Goes to Town Benny Goodman

03 Beethoven Riffs On John Kirby

04 Sonata by L. van Beethoven Jimmie Lunceford

05 Spanish Kick (Carmen Habanera) Charlie Barnet

06 The Quintette Plays Carmen Raymond Scott

07 Bizet Has His Day (Marche des Rois) Les Brown

08 Minute Waltz John Kirby

09 Triste (Tristesse) Herman Chittison

10 I’m Always Chasing Rainbows) Buddy Rich

11 Valse in C-sharp Minor Hazel Scott

12 My Reverie Artie Shaw

13 The Maids of Cadiz Benny Goodman

14 Sextette Donald Lambert

15 Goin’ Home Art Tatum

16 Humoresque Art Tatum

17 Martha Connie Boswell

18 Anitra’s Dance John Kirby

19 In the Hall of the Mountain King Will Bradley

20 Danse norvégienne Django Reinhardt

21 Ebony Rhapsody Duke Ellington

22 Liebestraum Nat King Cole

23 Liebestraum Spike Jones

24 Hungarian Rag Conway’s Band

Volume 2

01 Elegie Art Tatum

02 Spring Song Tommy Dorsey

03 Mozart Matriculates Benny Goodman

04 Barcarolle (Tales of Hoffman) Charlie Barnet

05 Caprice XXIV Paganini Benny Goodman

06 Prelude in C-sharp Minor Op. 3 Eddie Lang

07 Russian Rag Jim Europe

08 Bolero Benny Goodman

09 Pavanne (The Lamp Is Low) Erroll Garner

10 Flight of the Bopple Bee James Moody

11 Arabian Nightmare John Kirby

12 Song of India Tommy Dorsey

13 Melody in F Art Tatum

14 Melody in F Tommy Dorsey

15 Schubert’s Serenade Herman Chittison

16 Blue Danube Les Brown

17 Blue Danube Pat Flowers

18 Arab Dance Claude Thornhill

19 Bounce of the Sugar Plum Fairy John Kirby

20 Anvil Chorus Glenn Miller

21 Pilgrim’s Chorus Donald Lambert

22 Let’s Dance Benny Goodman

23 Desecration Rag Felix Ardnt

24 Operatic Rag Joseph Moskovitz

Also I started this thread about jazz musicians doing Bach some time ago:


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King Ubu beat me to those SagaJazz compilations.

Couple more classics:

The L.A. Four version of Maurice Ravel's 'Pavane Pour Une Infante Défunte'

The Teddy Charles album 'Russia Goes Jazz' (United Artists) where compositions by Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Kachaturian get a jazzy treatment by an All Stars group that include Howard McGhee, Eric Dolphy, Zoot Sims, Jimmy Giuffre, Pepper Adams and others.

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