All You Need
The first time BeatleJazz released an album, it was a nifty idea. An entire disc of Beatles songs done as jazz—it was surprising no one had done that before. The second time BeatleJazz released an album, it seemed like the other bookend—a natural sequel. The third time BeatleJazz released an album, it felt like the completion of a trilogy. Now BeatleJazz has released a fourth album, and it feels like a franchise that has already run its course.
For this outing, pianist David Kikoski and drummer Brian Melvin bring in bassists Larry Grenadier (for eight of the 11 tracks) and Richard Bona (for the other three), as well as guests Toots Thielemans (who plays harmonica on three tunes) and Joe Lovano (saxophone on two). Renditions of such staples as “Fool on the Hill” and “Lady Madonna” are fine, and the seven-minute take of “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is quirky and enjoyable. But Bona’s smooth-vocal treatment of “All You Need Is Love” is a spoonful too sugary, and most of the other songs are merely pleasant vehicles for Kikoski’s inoffensive style. Yeah, OK, many of the Beatles’ songs can be turned into jazz. We knew that three albums ago.