Voice choices

By JON GARELICK  |  November 19, 2007

But back to interpretation: does she find that modern pop is harder to arrange for jazz than standards? “For me, it’s about melody and lyrics,” she says over the phone from her home in Brooklyn. “If that’s strong, you can cover just about anything. It’s pretty easy with the Beatles, because the melodies and lyrics are so strong they can stand alone without any harmonies. Sade is really hard.” Here she laughs. “Because it’s more about the vibe. I know, because a friend of mine tried to cover Sade — the harmonies are all pretty modal and simple and the melodies aren’t necessarily that hooky, so it’s really about her voice and the instruments and the groove. So her music, even though it’s great, is really hard to cover.”

Did she have to tinker with the Beatles harmonies to make them jazz? “The original chord structure of ‘I’m Looking Through You’ is pretty simple, and it wouldn’t really fit in with what I do. It wouldn’t work for me to have a lot of major triads without sevenths, or just a basic I-IV-V. It wouldn’t work with the rest of my music or the rest of the set, so I came up with a different sound that I hear, more of a backdrop for the melody. The arrangement is really an interpretation of the song. It’s a more minor, darker sound, whereas the original is more major.”

For Hardy, some of the interpretive satisfaction comes in the writing. “ ‘We Kiss in a Shadow’ [from Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I, on the new disc] isn’t normally done in 7/8, and those chords sound different in the original. As an arranger, I try to take the standard and make it my own before I even sing it.”

STACEY KENT | Scullers, DoubleTree Guest Suites Hotel, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston | December 4 | 617.562.4111 | JULIE HARDY | Ryles, 212 Hampshire St, Cambridge | December 11 | 617.876.9330

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