Jazz: Twist Is The New Twerk

TWIST IS THE NEW TWERK / Scott Bradlee & Postmodern Jukebox / mudhutdigital.com

Postmodern Jukebox is exactly what its name suggests - a snarky, hipster- friendly high concept that takes contemporary pop hits and makes them over with not just straight jazz arrangements but deliberately retro sub-genres such as barbershop quartet harmonies and New Orleans stride piano.

The band is the brainchild of American pianist Scott Bradlee, a young jazz pianist who is well versed in both traditional swing and pop music.

The programming here is downright schizophrenic and the remakes are musically demented mashups of genres.

Miley Cyrus' cotton candy pop We Can't Stop gets a 1950s doo-wop pop treatment with barbershop quartet harmonies in the backup, Macklemore's Thrift Shop gets a classic New Orleans stride piano vamp that gives it an instant 1930s vibe and Lorde's Royals is delivered like a 1970s Elton John-esque piano-driven ballad.

The genre whiplash can be quite severe, but it has also turned this ensemble into an Internet phenomenon. But the acid test is whether the music the band makes stands up to the test of an album- length listen.

And surprisingly, it does.

The tunes themselves might not all stand up to the test of being re-tailored but the ones that work do so in surprising ways, such as the Guns N' Roses ballad Sweet Child Of Mine which actually benefits from a Nawlins take with singer Michelle Braden owning the lyrics in commanding big mamma fashion, and Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines translates perfectly into a sassy bluegrass setting that would have fit well in a down-and-dirty saloon.

And the musicians' glee is quite evident in the lively attack and joyous delivery. Who knows - Postmodern Jukebox might actually succeed in drawing younger listeners to the ossified realms of swing and jazz.


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