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Jazz Sabbath: Jazz Sabbath, Vol. 2 (Blacklake)

A review of the acoustic trio's second album

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Jazz Sabbath: Jazz Sabbath, Vol. 2 (Blacklake)
The cover of Jazz Sabbath, Vol. 2 by Jazz Sabbath

A cross between Black Sabbath and the Bill Evans Trio with a Spinal Tap timeline, Jazz Sabbath is the brainchild of pianist Adam Wakeman, who’s toured with both Black Sabbath and its original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne. The bandleader is the son of Rick Wakeman, the notoriously gifted and humorous former keyboardist for Yes—which makes the group’s absurdist, fictitious concept (of a 50-year-old jazz trio having had its compositions plagiarized by the heavy metal heroes, with Wakeman listed as Milton Keanes, upright bassist Jerry Meehan as Jacque T’fono, and drummer Ash Soan as Juan Také) more plausible. The acoustic trio released its self-titled debut in 2020; Vol. 2 is likewise a collection of seven Black Sabbath favorites.

A gifted interpreter, Wakeman gives the churning opening anthem “Paranoid” a creative intro that makes the track unrecognizable until 90 seconds in, after which, complete with a horn section, it goes full-on New Orleans second line. The subsequent “Snowblind” follows suit, with Soan’s brushwork lightening what was originally a typical Sabbath slow dirge. Tongue-in-cheek additional characters (electric pianist Allen Kees and electric guitarist Angus Guitaropoulos on the former, Hammond organist Leighton B’zard and acoustic guitarist Wes Tostrayer on the latter) increase the Spinal Tap elements.

Formulaic but effective, the core trio shifts “Behind the Wall of Sleep” from a 6/8 ballad into a sashaying jaunt midway and turns the haunting “N.I.B.” into a pleasant swing number. Only the dramatic closer “Black Sabbath,” with Meehan approximating Geezer Butler’s electric bass line, approaches the darkness of one of the original compositions stolen from “London’s most successful underground jazz trio” in 1969.

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