Home > Events, Reviews > Jazzfest Reviewed #2 – Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon

Jazzfest Reviewed #2 – Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon

June 26, 2012

Hermann’s was jammed to the rafters last night for guitarist Michael Occhipinti’s Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon. We arrived later than most but managed to grab a table dead centre at the front – a blessing but also a curse since we were right in the line of fire of Occhipinti’s Fender amp, which was cranked. I don’t know how the balance was elsewhere in the club but from that vantage point the guitar was far too loud, often drowning out Elizabeth Shepherd on piano and even Kevin Turcotte on trumpet who was five feet in front of us. Occhipinti played well but it would have been nice to hear guitar levels more akin to those found on the album, which by the way is superb (more on that in a moment).

Despite that complaint, the music was fabulous, particularly on quieter tunes like Across the Universe and Working Class Hero when we could hear all the musicians and fully appreciate Occhipinti’s creative re-imagining of these songs, not to mention (in the case of those two songs) Elizabeth Shepherd’s sublime vocals.

Jazz arrangements of pop songs can go awry, particularly with a songwriter like Lennon and a group like The Beatles, where the musical bar is high and we hear the tunes in a particular way. They can be too saccharine or stray too far from the original, pitfalls Occhipinti has avoided through his choice of musicians and vocalists, his arrangements, and his fine guitar work.

This was a great show and they’ve produced a superb album that I highly recommend. Have a listen courtesy of the CBC:

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