When jazz bassist and educator Chuck Deardorf was a young trombonist, he often found himself listening to the bass. “They get to play the whole time, and I thought, ‘wow they sound like they’re having a lot more fun than I am’,” he said explaining his instrument of choice in an interview on the arts website Centrum. “The bass just shapes the music so much. You have a lot of responsibility and freedom to really determine where the music goes.” Deardorf made this childhood vision a reality on his new cover of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” where he uses his bass to reinterpret the song’s vocal melody.
For the uninitiated, Blind Faith was a supergroup featuring Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood. They only released one self-titled album in 1969 (the one with that creepy picture of the young, not-even-close-to-being-adult topless girl on the cover). “Can’t Find My Way Home” endures as the group’s most played track on Spotify, with more than 15 million listens.
By contrast, Deardorf is more of a regional artist. According to his website, he has been a part the Pacific Northwest jazz scene for more than two decades. What he lacks in mainstream notoriety, he more than makes up for with heart on this spirited cover. I discovered the song the old-fashioned way, listening to a covers program called Jeff Duperon’s Jukebox Jazz on WRTI, Philadelphia’s jazz and classical radio station.
Deardorf included the cover on his newest release Perception. He takes the song on a lengthy, seven-plus minute jazz exploration. It opens with the piano taking the place of the acoustic guitars from the original. Then Deardorf comes in on bass, using the deep tones to replace Winwood’s original vocals. The interplay of piano and bass is punctuated throughout the song with light, funky drumming carrying it along. The song eventually builds to a fiery crescendo, then ends a quick fadeout.
Click here to listen to more Steve Winwood covers.