The Art of Interpretation
The concept of jazz musicians covering contemporary music is a tradition as old almost as jazz itself. NEXT Collective’s Cover Art is the newest addition to this cycle. This seven-piece ensemble consists of some of most talented younger jazz musicians doing what they do best, which is compose in-depth musical pieces. Cover albums are tricky things; if the artists stay too true to the original piece, the new composition can sound like a mediocre homage, but if the the artists stray to far away from the original they can be labeled as brazen.
What makes this album work well is the track selection. Instead of giving the listener a muzak version of a Now That’s What I Call Music compilation, the song choices veer away from top 40 hits and for the most part the album contains lesser known songs by popular artists. The only exception to this is “Thank You” by Dido. NEXT Collective’s take on this Dido track gives the song more depth while still allowing it to sound familiar. They tackle Bon Iver’s “Perth” in a similar fashion, with the only thing reminiscent of the original is the main guitar voicing. Drummer Jamire Williams is incredible, though at a casual listen may be overshadowed by the dynamics of the saxophones in the foreground.
Cover Art is one of those albums that may have more of a niche target audience. Although a broad spectrum of genres is covered, the way in which it is done might not be for everyone. NEXT Collective accomplished what they intended to do though, and that is to create an amazing sounding jazz album, incorporating songs that one might not think would be appropriate for the style.