“Backstreets” without a guitar? “Jungleland” without a saxophone?
Paul Jost is a brave man. And he will play Bruce Springsteen entire Born to Run album without those instruments — well, he may give in and play guitar on one song, he says — at the Exit 0 Jazz Festival in Cape May, May 29. (The festival runs May 29-31 at various locations throughout the shore town.)
Jost, who is 62 and lives in Vineland, will sing and play harmonica, with accompaniment by Jim Ridl on piano, John Swana on EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument) and trombone, Tony Miceli on vibes, Chico Huff on bass, and Anwar Marshall on drums.
He was not a Springsteen expert before taking on this project, but was commissioned to do it by Exit 0 producer Michael Kline, who came up with the idea because this year marks the 40th anniversary of Born to Run. Jost has a lot of experience reinterpreting classic-rock songs in a jazz way with his Paul Jost Project (for some examples of his work, see the videos below), so was a logical person to ask.
These will obviously not be straightforward covers, but the songs will still be recognizable, Jost says. “The thing about Springsteen, his lyrics are just so wonderful. I love his lyrics, and that’s what I’m using, really, as the inspiration,” he says.
“When I do this arranging sort of thing with other songs, whether they’re standards or pop tunes, or whatever, I try to bring a different approach to it, so that people hear the lyrics in a different way. I’m not just banging it out. I’m really trying to embrace it, and make a little bit of a statement. I’m hoping that if Bruce heard some of this stuff, he’d say, ‘Yeah, that’s cool, I like that.’ ”
There’s a jazz influence on Born to Run already — think about Randy Brecker’s trumpet playing on “Meeting Across the River,” or the way the horn section and Roy Bittan’s piano color “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” — though Jost says he couldn’t find any examples of a full-blown jazz treatment of it. And he says he hopes that this is not a one-time thing: that he’s able to do more concerts like this one, or make an album with these arrangements.
“It’s something really different,” he says. “It’s a great band, and we might be onto something here. I hope so. ‘Cause I think the music is fun. I think the people should hear it.
“I’m hoping that I strike a chord with this. Whether I do or not, I believe in what I’m doing, and I’m passionate about it.”
Other performers at the Exit 0 Jazz Festival will include Dr. John, the Rebirth Brass Band, Cyrille Aimée, Roberta Donnay and the Prohibition Mob Band, Pepito Gomez, Daisy Castro, Joey Alexander, the Dylan Reis Quartet (featuring Immanuel Wilkiins), and Melissa Aldana & Crash Trio, Sin Frontera, Sean Jones and Charenée Wade. Jost’s set will take place at 8 p.m. May 29 on the Bob Simon Memorial Main Stage at Cape May Convention Hall. For more information and a complete schedule, visit Exit0JazzFest.com.
For examples of Jost’s past work, check out what he did with Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” and Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” in these clips: