adapt music of the Beatles
- April 25, 2003
Jon Bream, April 25, 2003
The words are by Lennon and McCartney, but the music could
almost be credited to Evingson and Knutson. Veteran Twin
Cities jazz singer Connie Evingson and pianist Mary Louise
Knutson have dramatically rearranged 13 Beatles
songs for the singer's CD "Let It Be Jazz," which
is also the name of her stage show this weekend at the Illusion
Theater in Minneapolis.
When I'm 64" becomes a tango, "From Me to You" becomes
Brazilian, "Oh Darlin' " becomes a New Orleans blues, "Fixing
a Hole" becomes a Steely Dan-like reggae, and "The
Night Before" becomes a late-night ballad. (And in a hidden
track, "When I'm 64" is reworked as a Dixieland number.)
It usually comes organically from the song," said Evingson,
who relishes re-interpreting and rearranging the familiar. "I
start singing the tune in different phrasing, and the phrasing
generallyleads to the feel." Sometimes, the arrangements
were a little bit of cut-and-paste. One day, as Evingson was
doing the dishes, an unexpected introduction
for her blues version of "Blackbird" popped into
I knew I wanted to work in an Eastern thing and the sitar because
it was a big part of theBeatles thing," she said. "I
started humming away, improvising on blues. I started doing
this Eastern line and developed it as an intro to the all-blues
" I love when ideas come like that. They come at times like when
you're doing dishes or taking a shower or driving or doing
something when you're captive but your mind is free to wanderbecause
you have to stay at some task that you don't have to think. I just love that
part of creativity." Some Beatles
songs don't lend themselves to jazz treatments, Evingson said
last week, because they have simple lyrics and
simple harmonic structures. Knutson, who was not especially
familiar with the Beatles, was an important collaborator on
the arrangements, the singer said. Evingson, who is in her
40s, has been talking about doing an album of jazz interpretations
of the Beatles since 1995. The
Fab Four and Joni Mitchell have been her principal pop influences.
Other jazz singers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan
and John Pizzarelli, have done jazz collections of Beatles
Evingson undertook this project in earnest about two years
ago. She debuted the show duringlast summer's Fringe Festival.
Now she has returned for a more fully realized production,
which is doubling as a CD-release party. "
I'm looking at this as a concert presentation in an intimate
theater setting," said Evingson, who has done a Peggy
Lee tribute show at the Illusion several times since 1997.
She has not planned an elaborate production for her "Let
It Be" program. "I do have a pair of authentic Beatles
boots that I got in Liverpool online," she said. "I
was tempted to get blue suedebut I just went with the black." Devouring
the Fab Four's "Anthology" book and TV
series, Evingson has met the Beatles all over again. "
I have 10 titles and seven arrangements for Volume 2," she
said. "But my next record will be a guitar record. I don't
have the songs yet, but almost every track is a different guitarist."