Kronos Quartet: Purple Haze (1986)

 |   |  1 min read

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 oddities, one-offs or songs with an interesting backstory see From the Vaults.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   From the Vaults articles index

Pat McMinn: Geddes Dental Renovations advertisement (1949)

Pat McMinn: Geddes Dental Renovations advertisement (1949)

It's an odd but understandable thing that advertising jingles can often make as much, if not more, impact on our consciousness than serious music. The reason is perhaps simple: they are short,... > Read more

Lewis: Like to See You Again (1983)

Lewis: Like to See You Again (1983)

The story behind the obscure album L'Amour by a man known only as Lewis is as odd and out-of-sych as the cover photos. In '83 the handsome, well-groomed Lewis turned up at a rundown punk studio... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA REVIEWED (2015): Keeping up the standards

THE COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA REVIEWED (2015): Keeping up the standards

More than just carrying the music and legacy of the great Count Basie (who died in '84), the orchestra that bears his name and played Auckland's elegant Civic defies the logistics and expense of... > Read more

INSIDE OUT IN THE OPEN, a doco by ALAN ROTH (ESP-Disk DVD)

INSIDE OUT IN THE OPEN, a doco by ALAN ROTH (ESP-Disk DVD)

The problem with Ken Burns' excellent Jazz doco series for those who embrace the broad church that is jazz, was not what was included (that was largely unimpeachable) but what was excluded.... > Read more