Saturday Stream | Jazzing Up The Beatles

The Beatles influence on popular music has been apparent since the Fab Four stormed the charts with hit after hit during their short but prolific career. Just this week a previously unheard recording of Kurt Cobain performing “And I Love Her” surfaced in a clip from an upcoming documentary about the late Nirvana frontman. Down at Jazz Fest in New Orleans its almost guaranteed The Beatles songs will make it into playlists on the stages of the fairgrounds and theaters around the city this weekend and next.

While Jazz Fest’s lineup certainly reaches far beyond its namesake genre, this week’s playlist —Jazz Beatles — stays within the confines of instrumental jazz covers of The Beatles songs. The 15 lyric-less tracks run the gamut of styles, from big band to classical to fusion and traditional, The Beatles influence was broad even within the various realms of the genre. 

Guitarists feature prominently, with Stanley Jordan, Bill Frisell, Jeff Beck, Wes Montgomery and John Scofield represented as well as Jake Shimabukuro on ukulele. Master pianists Herbie Hancock, Ramsey Lewis, John Medeski and Brad Mehldau give their interpretations of Beatles hits, while legendary band leaders Herb Alpert and Duke Ellington keep things old school. Top notch bassist Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten and Chris Wood are also involved in the all instrumental action that clocks in at just under one hour and twenty minutes.