Iconic Instrumentals Spotify Playlist

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This week influential jazz-fusion act Weather Report shared a live version of their acclaimed instrumental standard “Birdland” from their pending The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978 – 1981 four-disc box set set to be released later this month. “Birdland” debuted on Weather Report’s 1977 studio album, Heavy Weather, and has gone on to become on of the most recognizable and popular instrumental tracks of all-time. This week’s Spotify Playlist – Iconic Instrumentals – features a collection of 25 of the most well-known vocal-less songs (including the original recording of “Birdland”) from a wide variety of sources.

Weather Report’s brethren from the jazz world Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and Return To Forever are among the featured instrumental composers rounding out the set. Soulful funk favorites James Brown and The Meters sit alongside B3 master Booker T. & The MG’s whose playlist opening instrumental “Green Onions” defines “iconic.”

Classic rock makes up the majority of the set, with entries from legends like The Allman Brothers Band, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, Rush and more. Outside of few bits of spoken word – like Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” intro – the completely lyric-less tracks also include a number of songs popularized in feature films and television such as Walter Murphy’s “A Fifth Of Beethoven” from the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack and Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” television series theme performed by Duane Eddy.

Also chosen was the hip-hop sample staple “Apache” by the Incredible Bongo Band, Beastie Boys’ “Groove Holmes” and the tender, playlist closing “Lenny” by the late great guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan. Go wordless for a while with nearly two hours and 15 minutes of all instrumental tunes for your listening pleasure.