KNKX presents Jazz Overhaul's new video covering Seattle rock legends Alice in Chains
The iconic alternative rock of Seattle bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and others is getting a drastic rework from a new Northwest modern jazz group called Jazz Overhaul. KNKX has the video premiere of their latest, a cover of Alice in Chains' heavy hit "Them Bones" with special guest David Marriott on trombone.
Tacoma-based saxophonist Cliff Colon didn't grow up a fan of grunge music.
"I was a jazz guy in the '90s," he said. "My brother used to listen to this, but I never got it."
Now, though, he's thrilled about the instrumental possibilities in rock songs from his youth. This is nostalgic music to many, and Colon sees similarities between Jazz Overhaul and his Contraband project which arranges Nintendo video game music into jazz fusion.
The rock songs of the 1990s, though, have a closer connection to home. "There's a Seattle sound," Colon explained. "I feel like we should be playing the music of our city, just like Dixieland is associated with New Orleans. It's fun to be able to pay homage to the great bands of our area."
For listeners who aren't as familiar with that era, Jazz Overhaul emphasizes the melodies and harmonic structure of the songs themselves. Colon said his father-in-law likes the Jazz Overhaul version of Radiohead's "Creep." But when he looked up the original, he really didn't like it.
Colon borrowed from the jazz tradition of learning the lyrics to songs as you play them instrumentally.
"I spent a lot of time diving into the words of these songs, a lot of them are really amazing," he said. But the group doesn't feel the need for a vocalist.
"The male vocal range of these groups really lends itself to the tenor sax. We like the idea of not having vocals," Colon explained. Instead letting the "words be in everyone's head because they recognize the song."
The core of Jazz Overall is Colon's saxophone, handling the vocal melodies, backed by Jake Sele on keyboards, Osama Afifi playing electric bass and D'Vonne Lewis behind the drums. Special guests include trombonist David Marriott in the "Them Bones" video, Marina Albero playing keytar on Pearl Jam's "Even Flow," and guitarist Andy Coe will join the band at Bake's Place in Bellevue for their concert Saturday, Jan. 28.
Future guests at Jazz Overhaul's monthly residency at Bake's Place will include Marriott, Albero and trumpeter Thomas Marriott, vibraphonist Jacques Willis and more.
As for releasing the music, Colon said that since they didn't write the songs, they prefer to share videos of live performances instead of selling albums. In addition to YouTube, Jazz Overhaul shares shorter clips on Instagram and TikTok.
KNKX is proud to present the video premiere of Jazz Overhaul's version of "Them Bones" by Alice in Chains. The gritty sounds of organ and distorted bass driven by D'Vonne Lewis' drums set the scene for Colon's tenor sax and David Marriott's trombone, emulating vocal harmonies in the original.
It's true to the spirit of 1992, and a nostalgic surprise for listeners familiar with the source material, but the hook is in the song itself. That's something all music fans can appreciate.
The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Washington. LISTEN ON DEMAND