World Premiere: Abiah shines on "Lucky Star" cover

(April 15, 2020) Jazz musicians have a history of being imaginative and adventurous when it came to their interpretations of popular music. Check out Coleman Hawkins’ flights of improvisational fancy on “Body and Soul” to get proof. For years though, it seemed like popular music from the rock era had them messed up. There have always artists such as Wes Montgomery who never dismissed rock or R&B music as inferior or not worthy of the sort of jazz treatment that gave the world Hawkins’ interpretation of “Body and Soul,” but others in the jazz world felt less enthusiastic.

(April 15, 2020) Jazz musicians have a history of being imaginative and adventurous when it came to their interpretations of popular music. Check out Coleman Hawkins’ flights of improvisational fancy on “Body and Soul” to get proof. For years though, it seemed like popular music from the rock era had them messed up. There have always artists such as Wes Montgomery who never dismissed rock or R&B music as inferior or not worthy of the sort of jazz treatment that gave the world Hawkins’ interpretation of “Body and Soul,” but others in the jazz world felt less enthusiastic.

Fortunately, that is changing and there is now a generation of jazz artists who match their love of jazz with a love, respect and understanding of R&B, hip-hop, rock and contemporary pop. The Ghanaian-American singer, songwriter and music educator Jeremiah Abiah is an artist who has a penchant for putting his unique jazzy style on music from the R&B and rock songbooks.

Bottles, his excellent 2016 release, included a percussive, acoustic cover of Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It” (titled “What’s Love” on Bottles). The track sported a funky swing and featured deft acoustic guitar work, as well as Abiah’s atmospheric vocals that moved all around the melody.

Abiah returned two years later with a wonderful tribute album to jazz singer Nina Simone, and now he’s returning soon with his reimaging of the work of one of the giants of 1980s and 90s pop – Madonna. In advance of that album, this First Listen finds Abiah taking on the Material Girl’s 1983 hit a “Lucky Star,” a sleek, percussive and synth infused dance number that helped introduce Madonna to the world.

Abiah’s acoustic version opens with violins and cello that gives way to a slow burn of an electric bass. Abiah’s ethereal vocals give the track a torchy feel that is ideal for a different type of dancing. Check out the World Premiere of  “Lucky Star” here.

By Howard Dukes

World Premiere!
Abiah – “Lucky Star”

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