Herb Alpert has always been known for his jazz covers taking some detours from their source material, but, even keeping that in mind, one would hardly expect to find elements of electropop in his repertoire. That’s exactly what we get, though, in his cover of “Chattanooga Choo-Choo,” first recorded and popularized by big band legend Glenn Miller in 1941. Jarring as the concept may seem, Alpert executes it brilliantly.
Critical, perhaps, to the song working is the fact that Alpert never set out to bring digital elements into his music. Like so many artists who work in the electronic medium, he was given the beat (by his nephew, producer Randy Badazz Alpert), and ran with it.
“I started playing on it, and it really worked,” Alpert said to the Wall Street Journal. “I took this funky, electronic sound and put some elegance on it.” To be sure, he did just that, making the techno background feel more like a convention of modern jazz than a contrivance, and the approach to “Chattanooga Choo-Choo” that emerges is one that’s utterly unique regardless of instrumentation. Alpert’s arrangement is a jaunty piece on its own that thrives even more in its dissonance to the original. Whether the track – or Alpert’s upcoming album, In the Mood – will be classics remains to be seen, but it’s an undeniable display of a legend continuing to thrive almost sixty years into his career.
For more on Herb Alpert, head over to his website.