|2 LPs on one CD. Beatles stories are fantastic interpretations of Beatles tunes. Highly recommended by Jazz Loft staffers!
Two complete albums by the infamous European jazz and improv duo, guitarist Gérard Pansanel and piano and accordion wizard Antonello Salis! For whatever reason, the folks at Splasc(h) decided to reissue them in reverse order, with 1991's Beatles Stories coming first. Simply put, this is an album primarily of Beatles covers with a couple of originals tossed in. But it's in the interpretation that the actual stories are told. The Pansanel and Salis duo faithfully reproduce the melodies of songs like "Blackbird" with an accordion-driven melody line instead of a guitar riff, but it's the scat-sung prelude with a country blues vamp at the end that distinguishes these cats from the millions of others who have attempted the same thing. And then there are the ghostly piano and electric guitar cadenzas in the center of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," featuring a prepared piano acting as a percussion companion. The set, which also crosses through "Strawberry Fields" and meets the "Taxman," ends with a moving, startlingly stark "Long and Winding Road," with modal changes turning the tune's harmony inside out to reveal its true darkness as Pansanel's electric guitar slowly screams the melody. On Cinecittá, a collection of soundtracks for a night at the mental movies, the duo are more expressionistic, offering glimpses not only into atmospheres but textural considerations, like allowing the percussion -- all organic -- to be mixed up with the lead instruments. The moods range from tense film noir ("Cinecittá"), to the pastoral ("Beyond the Waves"), to the romantic ("Last Night in Paris"), to the transcendental ("Silent Movie"). It's true that the two albums on this disc are scripted, but it doesn't take away from their considerable invention and originality. There aren't any cheesy selections where the pair might have thought, "it might be neat to do this tune with an accordion instead of a piano or a guitar...." It is obvious that every instrumental, lyrical, or improvisational idea was considered in light of the music at hand -- which is what makes this reissue so welcome and refreshing. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide