Saxophonist Branford Marsalis, a master musician known for speaking his mind, scolded Herbie Hancock for his 1990s album The New Standard, which covered the likes of Nirvana and Prince in an attempt to get jazz to wider audiences. Branford’s point was, why would anyone want to hear a jazz version of their favourite song? The same argument could be applied to this Chili Peppers covers project.
The DNA Group, known for their high-energy jazz-style covers, deliver a shedload of Chilis tunes – but rather than playing overly polite, mellow jazz renditions, they bluster their way through with a thunking attacking sound. Bassist Sebastian Hoffmann doesn’t embellish Flea’s original bass-lines, and his well-played, solid grooves avoid overly fussy fusion terrain, while drummer Robert Jöcks retains a suitably whack-some Chad Smith style throughout. Thus it’s left to sax man David Milzow and guitarist Johannes Uhlmann to rip it up on the solo sections, which they do well. But with little in the way of imaginative re-arrangements, one has to conclude that Branford has a good point; the German quartet sound like a classy covers band and little more.