It’s really fun as an Arranger and Orchestrator to have the opportunity to work with classic tracks that have caught your ear throughout your musical journey. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to put my own spin on something tried and true, or adapt it from one form to another. Here are some of the tunes that I’ve loved working on along the way that you might have missed in our catalogue:
— Shaun Evans
- Can’t Stay Away From You (Gloria Estefan)
- Time Will Tell (Tower Of Power)
- Clocks (Coldplay / Buena Vista Social Club)
- Swami Swing (Powder Blues)
- Spanish Moon (Little Feat / Lowell George)
- Maple Leaf Rag (Scott Joplin)
- Waltzing Matilda (Shaun Evans)
- Hey Jude (The Beatles)
- Give Me Just A Little More Time (Chairmen Of The Board)
- Green Eyed Lady (Sugarloaf)
Can’t Stay Away From You (Gloria Estefan)
Perhaps it’s growing up as a child of the 80’s (in Canada) where Santana and eventually Miami Sound Machine where my first touchstones of ‘Latin’ music that grabbed something that have stuck throughout my career. The songs of Gloria Estefan — and particularly her ballads like Can’t Stay Away From You are just classics to me. Lots of layers of textures and movement and just a great, flowing melody. You can’t go wrong.
Time Will Tell (Tower Of Power)
I was lucky to get introduced to Tower Of Power as a teenage Saxophonist. I quickly gobbled up all of their catalogue and Lenny Pickett became my idol. This 12/8 ballad from Emilio Castillo and Doc Kupka seemed to be a nod to the classic Soul that must have inspired them coming up. I love the grinding funk hits from T.O.P., but can’t deny this power ballad is a show stopper.
Clocks (Coldplay & Buena Vista Social Club)
I first heard this track on NPR’s Alt Latino show and immediately had to track it down. This take on Coldplay’s hit was such a great fusion of styles and interpretations. It made me think of some of the Verve Remixed albums in the 2000s as I had a feeling the Buena Vista Social Club and producer Kenny Young managed to work from the Coldplay masters and ‘remix’ their arrangement of the live band in to create this cool collaboration. I knew it would translate well to all sorts of band formats including Big Band. Give it a listen and check it out for yourself.
Swami Swing (Powder Blues)
The best part about being a musician is the relationships that you build along the way. When I set up PepperHorn I reached out to Tom Lavin and the Powder Blues band over in B.C., Canada and they have been fast friends ever since. I’ve worked with Tom to make charts available for their considerable catalogue of great Blues, Boogie, Swing and Jazz influenced tunes. One that always grabs new listeners has to be Swami Swing. It’s a groovin’ instrumental number with Bop-influenced riffs that are truly infectious — all without losing its Blues roots. Have a listen.
Spanish Moon (Little Feat)
A request that I kept getting was for this tune ‘Spanish Moon’. The moment I had a listen I was hooked. Its down tempo, groovy, has a Southern Rock / New Orleans vibe and you know the crowd is just going to love it. The tune was penned by Little Feat vocalist Lowell George. The groove is phat and the tune is perfect for opening up and letting the band have some fun. Give it a listen if you don’t know it already.
Maple Leaf Rag (Scott Joplin)
Sometimes you’re inspired to take on the real classics — the songs that represent a genre. It’s hard to this of Ragtime without thinking of Maple Leaf Rag. When I took to transcribing Joplin’s piano part and exploding it out for first Big Band and then translating that to smaller ensembles you knew it would be a challenge but a seriously rewarding number. If you have the opportunity to put your band in the hot seat and love to live life on the edge than this one will be sure to amuse!
Waltzing Matilda (Shaun Evans)
While on the subject of classics, I was working with a local community Big Band and the opportunity came to put together a Tenor feature. Being an Aussie transplant I thought it would be a great chance to give a treatment to the ‘unofficial national anthem‘ — the punters would all sing along and everyone would have a blast. Turned out that the ghost of Louis Prima was whispering in my ear and this one definitely ended up with a nod to the Lip. If you love the Prima style doubled up swing you’ll have fun with Waltzing Matilda.
Hey Jude (The Beatles)
Sometimes a classic is just a classic. I didn’t grow up in a ‘Beatles household’ — you know — those parents who had the full library and you were brought up with notions of the ‘greatest Rock n Roll band of all time’. I have to admit that my appreciation of the Fab Four has been a bit of a slow simmer, but when I got the nod from Sony to start working on their catalogue, Hey Jude really jumped out. The more you listened to the band, and eventually Paul’s live recordings you could tell that the band always loved to open this one up and have a great time with the audience. That kind of stuff is right in my wheelhouse. Our Hey Jude definitely plays homage to their many different live interpretations. I’m sure you’ll have as much fun with it as I did.
Give Me Just A Little More Time (Chairmen Of The Board)
I started working on Cruise Ships down in the States at 17. One of the things I loved to do on home port days was head out to town with a radio and dial in one of those classic Soul stations — you know the kind that every great US town has. Non-stop hits. This is one of those tunes that always stuck out to me. It really embodies all of the characteristics of the non-Motown / Stax ‘other’ Soul — a bit of the Northern simple, consistent groove (probably thanks to the Chairmen Of The Board‘s Detroit roots), but definitely a bit of a Beach bounce. If you’ve got the singers for this one definitely check it out.
Green Eyed Lady (Sugarloaf)
Last, but definitely not least is a bit of Psychadelically-influenced Rock with a touch of Southern and a dash of Prog. Colorado band Sugarloaf had a hit with this one in addition to their other hit Don’t Call Us We’ll Call You. It’s punchy, rocky and a lot of fun. Definitely lots of room for Guitars and Horns to rip it up and spread their wings. Another favorite for sure. Give it a listen.