Showcasing the songbook of John Lennon, arranged by eight-time JUNO nominee Michael Occhipinti, an acclaimed musician and guitarist, along with his all-star band accompanied by Canada’s most distinct Jazz vocalists: Elizabeth Shepherd, Yvette Tollar, Dominic Mancuso, Laila Biali and Denzal Sinclaire.
“The roots of the record go back to the 30th anniversary of his passing when I was asked to put together a concert to celebrate John Lennon’s music and I thought it would be nice to involve a few different vocalists so that no one singer had to take on the sole responsibility of being John Lennon,” says Occhipinti of the collage of artists that collectively have over 20 Juno Awards. “I thought of using female voices first, just to make it immediately different, and I heard specific voices in my head as I worked on the songs. I definitely had Elizabeth’s voice in my head as I worked on I Am The Walrus and Dominic for Instant Karma. I’m really pleased with how each of these singers fits so well with how I heard the record, and they all sound distinct and show that great songs can transcend the voice that made them famous.”
Based around a stellar core of award winning Canadian jazz musicians including Mark Kelso (drums), Kevin Turcotte (trumpet), Roberto Occhipinti (bass) and guest Robi Botos on piano; the featured instrumentalists and vocalists give a diverse collection of interpretations but remain true to the integrity of Lennon’s music, resulting in an album that is strikingly original and honest. All of the musicians and vocalists respect for Michael Occhipinti led them to want to participate in the project, whose past albums include The Sicilian Jazz Project, NOJO and Creation Dream – The Songs of Bruce Cockburn.
“There’s certainly no denying that the songs of John Lennon and The Beatles are absolutely cherished by millions of people, and so many other people have covered those songs too, so I put a lot of thought and care into each song we recorded. However, I think the pressure to present the songs in new and imaginative ways was a good kind of pressure, as it really pushed me to be creative and I did really try to keep the idea that if John Lennon were in the room I’d want him to say – hey, I never thought of doing that!” says the award winning Jazz guitarist and composer.
With what started as a one-time concert paying homage to John Lennon, Michael decided to make a timeless record with stellar line up of musicians telling Lennon’s stories in a style that is likely to surprise and please all Beatles fans alike.