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.

Share It

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

The Maytals: Disco Reggae (1977)

The Maytals: Disco Reggae (1977)

You could almost understand Kay Starr singing Rock and Roll Waltz as the waters around her rose in the Fifties. Her style was being swamped by the likes of rockabilly and rock'n'roll, so she was... > Read more

New Elsewhere

GUEST WRITER JARED HILL on the tainted legacy of Bob Marley

GUEST WRITER JARED HILL on the tainted legacy of Bob Marley

Of all the many historical figures in the 20th century regarded as forbearers of cultural revolution, Bob Marley is probably the most overlooked. While his unique brand of counterculture music... > Read more

Kiasmos: Kiasmos (Erased Tapes/Southbound)

Kiasmos: Kiasmos (Erased Tapes/Southbound)

One of the most interesting, if not visually engaging, artists at Laneway was electronica boffin Jon Hopkins who added edge and scratchy beats to elevate his sound above the quasi-ambience of... > Read more