Jazzman Play Me a Serenade
The Jazz Influences of Bruce Springsteen
Greasy Lake ,
By Geoffrey Totton
Like many other rock artists during the 1960s and 70s Bruce Springsteen could not help being influenced by jazz.
In those days jazz artists like Ramsey Lewis, Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, Herbie Mann, George Benson, Emir Deodato, Donald Byrd, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, and Weather Report had top 40 hits.. sharing the album charts with rock musicians. The influences of jazz spilled over into rockbands eg... The Doors, Led Zep, Jethro Tull, Carlos Santana.
I have a live concert tape from the late 70s where Bruce and The E Street band take a detour into jazz improvisation.
BIG BOSS MANN
Listening to Bruce's recorder playing on "Unearthed" I could tell the influence of the great jazz flutist Herbie Mann... during the 60s he had two top 40 albums of his own"Live at the Village Gate" and "Memphis Underground".
Herbies funky style of fluteplaying has wide appeal beyond the jazzworld..and I would not be surprised if Bruce had at least the Herbie Mann greatest hits album. In fact Herbie Mann was called the boss well before Bruce.. he recorded a funky latin album in 1969 called "Big Boss Mann".check out www.jimnewsom.com.
It is no surprise David Sancious quotes Dollar Brand at the opening of "New York Serenade"... Davids jazz leanings are well known..he was a sidesman on Stanley Clarkes very funky "Schooldaze" album of 1976.
Dollar Brand is a jazz keyboard player from South Africa..discovered by journalist Ntate Phalane in the 1950s... his unique music is a fusion of jazz and the funky South African township jive.
GETTING HIGH ON CTI
"Kittys back"has the feel of a Creed Taylor production..from 1970 to 77 Creed Taylors CTI label recorded a lot of funky fusion style jazz for a wide market.
It sounds as if David Sancious had turned Springsteen on to the keyboard guitar pairing of Emir Deodato and John Tropea(very funky and exciting instrumentals) on the CTI label.
WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT -WEATHER REPORT
Weather Report was one of the top 70s fusion bands.. its core was Joe Zawinul (keyboards) and Wayne Shorter (sax).
"I'm on fire" has a similar melody to the Weather Report tune"Black Market".
"Tunnel of love" has the feeling of a country boy in a pickup crashing head on to the dark funk of Weather Report.. and a riff from Weather Reports mid 70s "Heavy Weather"album running through it. (That is the album with "Birdland "on it.)
Now let us fast forward to now.."Live in New York City". Bruces performance of blues to eastern music on the 12 string guitar has the influence of jazz fusion guitar master John McLoughlin who played on Miles Davis "Bitches Brew".. and with Carlos Santana on the "Love Devotion and Surender" top 40 album of 1972. His harmonica soloing has the influence of jazz harmonica master Toots Thielmans.. sidesman to Quincy Jones... and I am sure the Big Man's big solo has the touch of Wayne Shorter.