On Tuesday, March 29th, “Five Leaves Left: A Tribute To Nick Drake” by the Jason Parker Quartet was released. Each day thereafter I wrote at length about one of the tracks – how the arrangement came about, what went down in the studio, thoughts about the performances, etc. Click here to read them all.
Click the play button to listen to the track while reading
This was a really fun tune to rearrange. The original (which you can listen to below) is built around Nick Drake’s driving guitar arpeggios, congas and a beautiful line played by cello. Since we had none of those instruments in our band, I gave the driving rhythm to Josh on the piano, had Evan play the cello part on bass with a bow, and took the melody on trumpet, with Cynthia filling in behind me. In the intro, I took Drake’s top line and gave it to trumpet and sax, as I did with the cello line between the verses. All in all I think spreading out the guitar and cello parts worked out great.
Once we got to the solos, we settled into a bit of a gospel feeling over the first part, which is a one-chord vamp. When the chord changes for the back half of each solo it’s a nice break from the vamp and a great way to lead into the next solo. That really took shape in the studio over the 5 takes we did of the tune. The one on the album is the final take, which is the case for many of the tunes. Seems like we got better and better as we went along.
Some of my favorite moments in this one: When Evan comes in with his thumping bassline after the bowed section, which he comes back to throughout the tune, the interludes between the choruses, and how everyone handles them a bit differently, and the way Cynthia weaves her way inside and outside the chords during her solo. And check out D’Vonne’s almost New Orleans-esque drums rolls at the beginning of my solo!
For comparison purposes, here’s the Nick Drake version of the tune:
Tomorrow we’ll talk about track 7, “The Thoughts of Mary Jane”, and a last-minute treat from Cynthia.