RANDY WALDMAN — Superheroes (review)

RANDY WALDMAN — Superheroes album cover Album · 2018 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
js
As the story goes, apparently veteran arranger/pianist Randy Waldman was seated at an event next to Adam West, the original TV Batman, and the two got to talking about music and it turned out that West is a big jazz fan. That got Randy to thinking about the idea of a ‘jazz superhero’, which led to the rather unusual idea of cutting an album of superhero themes while utilizing the talents of some of Waldman’s “jazz superheroes”, in other words some of today’s top jazz musicians. Well I am sure many around Randy figured this was a crazy idea that would soon pass, but no, he was serious and he actually did cut the album, “SuperHeros”. You might expect something kind of silly or campy would come from such an unexpected tribute, but Waldman takes this project seriously, and the professionalism of the arrangements and performances back this up. Randy combines fusion, post bop, Latin and contemporary big band style arrangements to create his re-makes, and enlists some top artists including George Benson, Joe Lavano, Wynton Marsalis, Eddie Daniels and many more. The melodies and harmonies of the original TV and movie themes are heavily altered to fit a modern jazz style, and there is plenty of room in each chart for hot solos.

The first half of the CD centers around the more well known themes, and these cuts also receive the most ambitious arrangements, with a couple tracks featuring a 13 piece horn section. As the CD nears the end we get into some themes that are less well known such as the long forgotten Underdog and Super Chicken. Alas, the one theme that is missing is the jazzy one from “The Green Hornet”. Possibly the top track on “SuperHeroes” is “Spiderman Theme”, which features the always amazing vocals of Take 6 actually singing the original words while also providing interesting backgrounds for the solos. You get the feeling that Take 6 really are Spiderman fans finally getting a chance to sing about something that matters to them. Some other highlights include Marsalis’ time fooling elastic trumpet solo on “Batman Theme (TV)” and Eddie Daniel’s bebop ride on the insanely fast “Super Chicken Theme”. For the musician in the house, you will enjoy pointing out to people where the band uses the changes for “Giant Steps” for solos, and the fact that the TV Batman theme has the same changes as “Mr PC”.
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