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Review of Jazz Tribute to Deep Purple
by Garry Smith

Air Jazz Quartet : Jazz Tribute to Deep Purple
Air Transe Music ATM 523322 (France, 1995)
length : 50 mins

I recommend this if you want to hear something very different. DP done in a "smokin' jazz style", as the CD notes say. Mostly acoustic - I think the bass is electric, but it's in the style of Jaco Pastorius, so it fits perfectly with the other instruments. The accent throughout the music is on understatement, on being "cool" or "smokin'". It's modern tuneful acoustic jazz.

Remember, though, that it is a jazz album. It doesn't feature slavish copies of DP songs. Typically, a track starts off with the riff and/or verse/chorus melody line, then the guys go off and play solos, returning to the familiar DP tune for the end of the track.

Track by track :

1. Hush. A lively opener. I'm not a jazz man, but these guys sound more than competent to me!

2. Highway Star. Slower and more relaxed than the DP versions. The original melody "Nobody's gonna take my car...." is almost all on one note, so they embellish it a little. Good, relaxing sax and piano solos, then a quieter middle section featuring bass, then the sax plays something close to the original guitar solo. The bass reminds me of Pastorius, but then I don't know any other jazz bassists to compare to!

3. Black Night. Another cool, relaxed number. A bit of syncopation and some quirky pauses transform the main riff, and the whole thing swings, rather than rocks. I know this is a cliche, but Highway Star and this one are late night smoky cafe or jazz club music.

4. Smoke On The Water. Faster than DP's versions, and again the riff is slightly tweaked to give a jazzier feeling. Quickly turns into an up-tempo workout for the sax and piano. Returns to the SOTW theme for the end.

5. Woman From Tokyo. A four-minute piano solo, which I think is just magic. Wonder what Jon would make of it?

6. Strange Kind Of Woman. The melody line sounds really good on the sax - some of DP's music sounds as though it was meant to be played this way. Another mid-tempo one that chugs along very nicely.

7. Burn. Slow and moody. The main riff is played on the piano, and sounds very natural - as well it should if it was stolen from Gershwin!

8. Fireball. Starts off with the bass player doing a neat repeating pattern, then the rest of the group come in. The melody is played by the sax. The bass and drums sound quite complex, and this number is the closest that they come to breaking down into the sort of atonal honking that you hear in modern jazz.

9. Child In Time. Piano intro - not a copy of the original. Then into the verse, with a sort of reggae rhythm behind it. Gets more intense, stops, and starts all over again (like you'd expect), before finally breaking down in disorder, pretty much like the original.

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