Kronos Quartet: Purple Haze (1986)

Kronos Quartet: Purple Haze (1986)

When the Kronos Quartet closed their first album for the Nonesuch label in '86 with this brittle version of Jimi Hendrix's '67 hit even liner note writer Gregory Sandow had to concede that, after a programme of works by Peter Sculthorpe, Aulis Sallinen, Philip Glass and Conlon Nancarrow, it had all the hallmarks of a built-in encore.

Known for introducing works and commissions by cutting edge composers (most of them still living), they had already essayed work by Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans from the jazz arena alongside contemporary classical composers, but this was something a little different.

Ever since the Boston Pops Orchestra took to playing Beatles songs, popular music had been arranged for small groups and orchestras, but mostly they were very conservative (usually the Beatles' most popular material in fact).

However in this arrangement (by Steve Riffkin) the Kronos Quartet effectively mimicked Hendrix's feedback and introduced it at the end of this taut, tense and tight three minutes -- even though feedback isn't on the orignal.

220px_Kronos_kronosThey were adapting Jimi Hendrix and inhabiting his music in a way that few other classical players had attempted, or perhaps would dare to, with rock music.

And as Sandow noted, by doing so this rather reversed the notion of bringing pop and rock music to a classical setting. But by placing it on this album it advanced the idea that the most characteristic music of our world isn't "classical" music but something else, predominantly pop and rock.

And this version -- by its musical context -- also took contemporary classical music to an audience more familar with electric and electrifying rock.

It was also just a pretty terrific version of Hendrix.

For more one-offs, oddities and songs with an interesting backstory use the RSS feed to keep up with the daily postings From the Vaults.

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section

Pine Top Smith: Pine Top Boogie (1928)

Pine Top Smith: Pine Top Boogie (1928)

Aside from this being considered one of the first, if not the first, reference to "boogie woogie", there are a number of other interesting things about this recording by the pianist... > Read more

National Lampoon: I'm A Woman (1975)

National Lampoon: I'm A Woman (1975)

Before they got into movies like Animal House and the Vacation series (with Chevy Chase), National Lampoon was a satirical magazine which also delivered a very funny sideline in records such as... > Read more

New Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Ben Morley of Mice on Stilts

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Ben Morley of Mice on Stilts

Few could watch the heartbreaking images from Gaza recently without feeling some pang of pain and discomfort. Regardless of the knotty politics of the situation there, seeing people's homes... > Read more

DON WAS INTERVIEWED (2014): This note's for you

DON WAS INTERVIEWED (2014): This note's for you

By coincidence, the day I got an e-mail to say famous producer Don Was -- head of the Blue Note jazz label these past two and half years -- was available for an interview I had just seen him on... > Read more