Jazz treatments of pop covers turn up in some unusual places, but I never thought I’d find one on a Keith Jarrett record. But on Jasmine, his latest outing for ECM, a gorgeous duet session with bassist Charlie Haden, Jarrett covers One Day I’ll Fly Away, which was a hit for Randy Newman in 1980.
As you’ll hear, Jarrett and Haden this very straight. There are no pyrotechnics, clever chord substitutions, whizzy improvisational delights. Actually, to my ears, there’s not much of anything. It’s all done with consummate musicianship, of course, but it left me a little cold. By way of comparison, here’s Newman herself, performing the song live with Joe Sample (who wrote it), twenty-six years after it was first released. Now, this gave me goosebumps. It’s been a long time since I’d heard her sing, and I’d forgotten what a great voice she has – utterly distinctive, and (here, anyway) full of emotion. I like the Jarrett/Haden version, but if I had to choose one to take one to a desert island, I’d take Randy Newman every time.
Pop 1, Jazz o. Who’d have thought it?