3 Unusual Covers of One of the Best Jazz Ballads

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John Coltrane wrote “Naima” for his first wife, and it first appeared on his 1959 Atlantic album Giant Steps, on which the tour de force title track re-wrote the book on tenor saxophone playing.

“Naima” is one of the most beautiful and durable of all jazz ballads; it has been recorded hundreds of times.  Coltrane also played it often in concerts and recorded it numerous times after that 1959 watershed album.

I want to play these three unusual interpretations of the famous song.

1. Meg Okura and the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble is first.  She’s a classical violin and viola prodigy who’s branched out into improvisatory jazz and other styles. You can see her at a young girl with the violin maestro Isaac Stern in this photo (on the video below).  By the way,  Isaac Stern in China is a great documentary, recorded way back in the 1980s.

Meg Okura and the Pan Asian Chamber Jazz Ensemble: “Naima”

2. The second version is by Spanish pianist Chano Dominguez. Here he performs the standard with upright bass and a cajón instead of trap drums. I can’t find anything on YouTube for “Naima”, but I did find him with Wynton and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra doing some big band flamenco with some nice dancing (note, it’s an hour!)

Chano Dominguez: “Naima”

3. The final version of “Naima” is, like Ogura’s, chamberistic, and is from Toronto-based bassist Roberto Occhipinti.  It’s refreshing to hear these versions of a timeless song.

Roberto Occhipinti: “Naima”

Here Occhipinti talks about his album A Bend in the River.