Ted Howe is hardly the first jazz artist to record a composition by pop icon Elton John, but he is likely the first to devote an entire CD to John's works. Joined once more by bassist John Patitucci and drummer Joe LaBarbera on his second release for Summit, Howe expands upon the original melodies to make them appealing to skeptical jazz fans who may have little use for rock. It works surprisingly well, especially with his breezy bop rendition of "Philadelphia Freedom" and the Latin scoring of "All the Young Girls Love Alice," the latter adding Jerry Fields on timbales and Luis Gonzales on "Circle of Life." One of John's most annoying songs, "Benny and the Jets," gets a new lease on life, as Howe quickly abandons its tedious vamp and loosens it up with a bit of stride and some other playful touches. "Your Song" starts in a subtle, spacious ballad setting, then switches to into a funky, in-your-face mood. It falls a bit shy of being "a thrilling new classic on its own" as hyped on the CD's cover, but Ted Howe is to be congratulated for tackling such an ambitious and unlikely project and proving that rock music performed in a jazz setting doesn't have to be bland.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden