One of the most influential musicians of the 20th century is being honored in a new tribute album with a jazzy twist.
In “The Bowie Project,” a vocalist and a woodwinds player are combining their skills in a harmonic fusion with songs by David Bowie that feature jazzy additions.
“We want to honor his music and say, ‘This is what drew me to these songs,’” vocalist Paul Marinaro said.
“There’s a responsibility,” Marinaro continued. “He’s not just a gigantic icon, but the more popular songs are a part of our pop culture, of the fabric of the last 50-60 years. … He could make you feel a certain way, yet not fully understand where he’s going or what he means.”
Saxophone player Jim Gailloreto with the Metropolitan Jazz Octet arranged some of the songs on the group’s new album, saying their lyrical interpretation of Bowie’s music informed their musical “adjustments.”
“Once we picked a song, the idea is to not copy Bowie, but also not ignore what he did,” Gailloreto said. “We tapped into four other musician arrangers and did a treatment. They might change the feel or tempo or harmonize a little bit and put a spin on it.”
“‘Space Oddity’ was a brilliant arrangement and we said, ‘Do we really want to go there?’ because it’s pop culture,” Marinaro said.
Those updated treatments alongside Marinaro’s jazz undertones create what the performers are describing as a new concept album.
“It’s not just a Bowie album,” Marinaro said. “There are many underlying themes. It plays like an old-fashioned concept album.”
“Whatever camp [listeners are] in or if they never heard of a song, I think they can find way into those stories because he was brilliant at writing for all of us,” Marinaro said.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.