Review : Joe Jackson - The Duke
RollingstoneOn this Duke Ellington tribute, Eighties star (and longtime jazz dabbler) Joe Jackson interprets the great composer's classics via his own sophisti-pop style, jettisoning horns entirely on a series of crisp arrangements. Iggy Pop coils himself around a lounge-y "It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)," Questlove drives a hard-swinging "Rockin' In Rhythm," and Jackson’s own rendition of "I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good)" is movingly subtle. Even when it's too adult-contempo (see Steve Vai grating new age cheese all over "Isfahan") this album always has one thing going for it – it makes you want to listen to some Duke Ellington....full text
IndependentIn his Eighties pomp, Jackson contributed a superb arrangement of "Round Midnight" to a Thelonious Monk tribute album, but this new homage to Ellington works as superior adult-pop rather than jazz.
There's an adventurous (bizarre, even) choice of guests, including Steve Vai, Sharon Jones and Iggy Pop, yet Jackson has gone for the most familiar tunes, giving them makeovers from Iranian drum'*'bass to samba. He wins you over, eventually....full text
ConsequenceofsoundJoe Jackson gained popularity in the late ’70s with his debut pop rock album, Look Sharp!, which featured the hit single “Is She Really Going Out With Him?”. Over the next 30+ years, Jackson has released a number of albums that define the phrase “eclectic mix.” From reggae to swing to Cole Porter tributes, Jackson’s music has refused to fit nicely into a genre. His new record is a tribute to big band legend Duke Ellington called The Duke. Unfortunately, Jackson has taken Ellington’s best work and tossed it into a fusion/muzak processor to produce a noodling, boring re-imagining.
The worst parts of The Duke are tracks like the elevator jazz opener “Isfahan” and the minimal dirge take on “Mood Indigo”. The former is originally a mournful, saxophone-centric piece that can break your heart. Jackson’s take is something you’d hear over the speakers at a café that’s trying a little too hard for ambiance. The drums pound out a shaker-filled tribal beat while synthesizers and an effects-laden guitar bounce around the melody with no horns in sight. “Mood Indigo” sees Jackson taking lead vocals over drudging cabaret strings and horns. His vocals have a slurred quality that match the laborious beat, and the whole thing makes you wish he would just get on with it already....full text
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