'Twas the night before Halloween - Halloween's een perhaps? when I first heard the ghost of Ramsey Lewis's version of Nights in White Satin in the cadences of Tina Turner's We Don't Need Another Hero. Or was it the other way round, I wonder? Had time's arrow changed the perspective? As I hummed the stately theme that the violin led in Lewis's take on the tune (from his 1973 Funky Serenity album), I couldn't help but start interposing Tina's voicing of the lyrics "And I wonder when we're ever gonna change / living under the fear 'til nothing else remains". In my trance, the songs seemed separated at birth. How could it be? It was a musical puzzle, what made these anthemic songs congruent? How was it that the limpid and ethereal jazz piano seemed to mesh so well with the soulful and bluesy minor chords that powered that Eighties b-movie soundtrack.
When you DJ, you are attuned to beat matching and to hearing samples everywhere. This wasn't quite a sample, the songs are in different genres, but it was something in the mode, something in the mood, and in the voicing of certain phrases that drew me to connect them. Well listen for yourself, perhaps you'll hear what I heard.
For Ramsey Lewis, Nights in White Satin was on the serene side of Funky Serenity. At that point in his career, he was in the middle of his journey from soul jazz pianist to the cosmic and electric jazz funkateer that his is most remembered as - most notably the Sun Goddess edifice that Earth, Wind and Fire helped him build. In this mode, he would throw in some traditional nods to bop and take a turn towards the Silent Way that Miles ...[view whole blog post ]