All You Need

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Drummer Brian Melvin, keyboardist Dave Kikoski and bassist Larry Grenadier have hit on a winning combination with their Beatlejazz project, which features inventive jazz arrangements of Beatles melodies both familiar and (relatively) obscure. You might expect treacly, easy listening arrangements of these tunes, but the group instead opts for experimentation, and its experiments are usually successful. As usual, they have enlisted some help from their friends (sorry), and All You Need features contributions from legendary saxophonist Joe Lovano, bassist Richard Bona and harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans. Some of the treatments are fairly straight-ahead: "Fool on the Hill" is rendered as a lilting jazz waltz, and "The Night Before" is given a standard piano-trio arrangement prominently featuring Kikoski's Fender Rhodes piano. But "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" is played in a sharp and edgy style, and Bona sings "All You Need Is Love" affectingly in duala, his native language. On "Lady Madonna" the group takes a melody that is treacherously difficult to swing and manages to do just that, taking rhythmic liberties as necessary and turning the tune into a credible jazz vehicle. "Look at Me," one of the tracks on which Lovano makes an appearance, features some excellent blowing by the master but doesn't hang together quite as well as an arrangement. Overall, though, this album is a solid winner.

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