Calvaire/Franceschini/Hays/Le Fleming

Whole Lotta Love:  The Music Of Led Zeppelin

These jazzy renderings of Led Zeppelin tunes are swinging. Comparisons to the original Zep renditions are preposterous. The title track, for instance, is rendered as a slyly syncopated, medium-tempo shuffle-swing “sung” by powerhouse tenor saxophonist Bob Franceschini (a frequent foil for guitarist Mike Stern). The descending figure on “Dazed And Confused” is handled nicely by bassist Orlando Le Fleming while pianist Kevin Hays supplies the harmonic colors beneath Franceschini’s wailing tenor solo here.

Hays’ delicate, highly impressionistic take on “Immigrant Song,” or the quartet’s defanged version of “Custard Pie,” may be downright disorienting to fans of the Zep. But between Obed Calvaire’s marvelously interactive drumming, Hays’ ethereal keyboard explorations and Jarrett-inspired improvisations, and Franceschini’s unrestrained soaring on saxes, there is plenty here for adventurous listeners.

That said, their approach to “Kashmir” seems more contemplative than crushing (I much prefer Lenny White’s collaboration with bassist-singer Foley on the funky remake of that classic Zeppelin tune from the drummer’s 1999 album Edge). And their version of “In My Time Of Dying,” originally a tortured, cathartic slide guitar blues, would be right at home in a piano bar during happy hour, were it not for the authoritative, earthy tenor saxophone work of Franceschini. Those borderline new-agey interpretations, like some of the aging original Zep fans still around, lack teeth.

On Sale Now
December 2021
Roy Hargrove
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