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by Jason Gubbels

November 8, 2013

Jazz Covers The Beatles

by Jason Gubbels  |  November 8, 2013

Jazz has been digging The Beatles since the Fab Four first stormed the pop charts, which isn't surprising when you consider how central a good melody is for sparking improvisation. In fact, Beatles compositions were seized upon eagerly by jazz musicians at a time when rock 'n' roll was anathema to jazz audiences -- a tribute not just to the compositional skills of Lennon/McCartney but also to their love of jazzy chords and Tin Pan Alley pop.

We've compiled a killer playlist featuring favorite Beatles tunes interpreted by jazz artists over the past 50 years, from pianist Ramsey Lewis turning "A Hard Day's Night" into a soul-jazz smoker to George Shearing modally deconstructing "Here, There & Everywhere." There are also swinging tracks from Count Basie and Buddy Rich, solo skronk from Marc Ribot, spoken-word jazz-funk from Junior Parker, and wistful clarinet from Don Byron.

And watch for a brief detour midway through the playlist as Bing Crosby, Peggy Lee and Humphrey Lyttelton demonstrate how the Fab Four took some of their own inspiration from jazz counterparts. Crosby's 1932 hit "Please" was referenced by John Lennon as an inspiration for "Please, Please Me," while Paul McCartney later admitted to swiping the rollicking piano figure of "Lady Madonna" from Lyttleton's 1956 UK chart topper "Bad Penny Blues."

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