Feb 24, 2013 - Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon

Although not one of them was even born when Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon LP first jumped into the national consciousness, the musicians involved in Friday night’s “Dark Side of the Moon Revisited” concert at the Jazz Depot have all been influenced by that famed rock album, which ended up staying on the Billboard magazine album chart for an unprecedented 741 weeks. That also goes for the show’s producer, Nathan Wright. While the composer, guitarist, and vocalist won’t be taking the Depot stage Friday with those players, Wright is – in the words of participating saxophonist Ryan “Chips” Tedder – “spearheading the whole thing -- conducting, directing, and helping us put our arrangements together.”

 “I knew the musicians I wanted,” says Wright, “and I definitely wanted it to be a collaborative effort. So I picked people with good brains on their shoulders.

 “The first time we met, I set up a framework and a set of goals, and after that I told them I would be there for input, but I wanted each one of them to have freedom. And it’s worked pretty fantastically. As a composer, I’ve learned the benefits of having other brains on board. They make it way more creative and way more personal than anything I can do on my own.”

The players Wright assembled for “Dark Side of the Moon Revisited” come from the top ranks of Tulsa’s jazz scene: Tedder, vocalist Annie Ellicott, pianist Steven Schrag, bassist Jordan Hehl, and drummer Nicholas Foster. At one point, Wright considered joining the ensemble, but demurred.

 “I really just didn’t feel like I belonged there,” he explains. “I don’t think it needs a guitar in it at all. Instead, I wanted to keep that jazz-combo feel to it. And I can sing all those songs, but when I thought of doing the project, I was hearing Annie singing. She was my first idea.”

Friday, the group will perform the songs on the disc in order. But patrons should expect something well beyond a literal re-creation of the album.

“One of our goals was to make something new, but at the same time keep it identifiable,” Wright says. “You’ll be able to recognize all the tunes, but we’re taking them in a little different direction.”                 

 “We’ve all been pushing ourselves to see what kind of creative interpretations we can do,” adds Tedder. “Since it’s the story of a guy who’s losing his mind, we’re breaking up the songs more and more toward the end – messing with the meter, re-harmonizing, putting new chords to existing melodies, and, in some cases, deconstructing the melodies themselves.”

 Both Tedder and Wright first heard those melodies, and their lyrics, as youngsters, and the songs had an immediate and lasting impact. Tedder believes that he’s listened to Dark Side of the Moon more than any other disc in his collection, and Wright, who picked up the CD when he was about 10 years old, calls it “the first album I ever felt connected to.”

 “It’s also the first time I learned all the lyrics to an album,” he adds. “It does something that I as a musician try to achieve: It says something complicated in a very simple way – although it’s also complicated in ways that are very difficult to explain. As far as I’m concerned, Dark Side of the Moon feels like a universal for me and everyone around me.”

Wright knows, as he puts it, that “it’s been trendy to jazzify things that are not jazz.” He wanted, however, to go a little bit further with “Dark Side of the Moon Revisited.”

 “There’ve been few attempts to do a whole album that way,” he explains. “So I wanted to see if doing something that was very cohesive and very big would work.”

And he’s pleased with how it turned out – so pleased, in fact, that he’s thinking the project might have a life beyond Friday night’s performance.

 “My hope for it is that it gets to a point where we can take it to some other places,” he says. “With the fortieth anniversary of the album, there are some huge tributes going around with light shows, where they make it as much like the original as possible. I’m hoping maybe there’s a place for a newer acoustic version.”     

 “Dark Side of the Moon Revisited” is set to begin Friday at 8:00 p.m. at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame, located in downtown Tulsa’s Jazz Depot, 111 E. First Street. Tickets for the event can be purchased at the Depot or by calling Bettie Downing at 918-281-8609. General admission is $10, reserved table seating $20. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is a 501(c)(3) non-profit cultural and educational organization, with a mission to inspire creativity and improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans through preservation, education, and performance of jazz, our uniquely American art form.