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

Jimi Hendrix: 1983, A Merman I Shall Turn to Be (1968)

Jimi Hendrix: 1983, A Merman I Shall Turn to Be (1968)

Because of the sheer number of his recordings out there, you'd be forgiven for thinking that when he wasn't playing a gig (and being recorded), having sex or sleeping, the great Jimi Hendrix was in... > Read more

Gerry Mulligan: Mr Tambourine Man (1965)

Gerry Mulligan: Mr Tambourine Man (1965)

By the mid Sixties the once-popular jazz had been pushed to the margins of mainstream interest by the arrival of pop culture in the form the Beatles, the British Invasion and then the American... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Neil Halstead: Sleeping on Roads (2002)

Neil Halstead: Sleeping on Roads (2002)

Mojave 3 was one of the most oddly inappropriate names a band could have picked. Despite suggestions of deserts and Americana, they were British. And they based themselves in Cornwall, a less... > Read more

Trade . . .Me? A story of failed entrepreneurialism

Trade . . .Me? A story of failed entrepreneurialism

The new poster boy for entrepreneurs is 26-year old Canadian Kyle MacDonald: he’s the guy who traded a red paperclip for a fish-shaped pen, then traded that for a doorknob, that for a... > Read more