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March 1997

Bob Belden Presents
Strawberry Fields
Blue Note Records

As far as tribute recordings go, the Beatles are a no-brainer. Arguably the most covered band in pop music history, the Beatles have been extolled and mutilated by the best and worst of 'em. Musician/producer Bob Belden felt he could succeed where others have failed-hence Strawberry Fields.

Belden's approach is fresh: select a mix of hits and nuggets from the band's catalog, conduct a true jazz-rock band of hip young players (Javon Jackson, Tim Hagans, Kevin Hays amongst them) through charts that recall vintage '70s Quincy Jones, enlist a cadre of fierce divas (Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, Holly Cole, Jahlisa, Penny Ford, Sylvia Shemwell) to sang the notes. Though Strawberry Fields has a few clinkers ("Come Together" for one), there are more than enough transcendent moments like Cole's "I'm Only Sleeping" and Reeves' "Tomorrow Never Knows" to justify Belden's chutzpah. Volume Two, Blue Note (and when are you going to release Belden's Puccini's Turandot?)

Originally published in March 1997
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