JAZZ TIMES writer Ken Franckling on OFF WHITE

JAMBa, Off White (JAMBaTunes) 

While there is a jam band feel throughout this project, the band name JAMBa does not reference the genre. It merely borrows initials from co-leaders drummer John Anter and bassist Marty Ballou. They pulled together an impressive lineup of studio players for Off White, a stretched-out, instrumental jazz tribute to The Beatles. It combines elements from The Fab Four’s White and If You Need Mesessions, sometimes mashing texture and instrumentation from one tune with the rhythms of another. For example, the tune “Hey Bulldog” includes licks from “Cold Turkey.” 

Besides the two leaders, the core band includes Joe “Sonny” Barbato on piano, Hammond B-3 and accordion, edgy guitarist Bruce Bartlett and saxophonist Klem Klimek. Bassist Dave Zinno and drum master Bernard Purdie joined the fun for two and three tracks respectively. Gems here include their takes on “Yer Blues” and “Flying” (both powered by Purdie), “Rocky Raccoon” (featuring Zinno), the calliope-esque “Junk,” a version of “Blackbird featuring just Anter, Ballou and Zinno, and a searing cover of George Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness.” Quite a few jazz players have covered Beatles material in recent years, but not like this.

--Ken Franckling

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