AMN Reviews: Jazz Sabbath – Jazz Sabbath (2020; Blacklake)

It is a rite of passage for aspiring young metal guitarists to learn a few Black Sabbath tunes, both to pay homage to icons of the genre and to be able to join a band that covers said icons. Indeed, Sabbath cover bands are in no short supply, and quite a number of entire albums have been dedicated to this endeavor. But, arguably the best Sabbath covers are those in which the band’s trademark riffs are changed up to the point that it takes some effort to identify the source material. Examples of these are the Estonian early-music group Rondellus, using period instruments and translating the lyrics to Latin, as well as two albums from 9-piece Latin funk band Brown Sabbath.

Enter Jazz Sabbath, a piano trio that has created its own alternative history in which they recorded a number of jazz pieces in the late 60’s that they were unable to release before Black Sabbath beat them to market with metal covers of their material. This album would be the first-ever release of the long-lost Jazz Sabbath tapes. Or, Jazz Sabbath is a tongue-in-cheek trio that recorded a handful of Sabbath favorites five decades later.

As might be expected, the well-known classics are represented, including Iron Man, Evil Woman, and Children of the Grave. Jazz Sabbath takes the doomy aspects out and adds vamp and bounce. Walking bass lines, piano improvs and drumming in the 50’s and 60’s bop style are the driving force. Each track is de-constructed from its original form to the point that you may have to pay careful attention to identify its source material. This is definitely the case with Evil Woman and Children of the Grave, but perhaps not so much with the piano lead of Iron Man which remains more clearly identifiable.

For those of us who grew up listening to the dark wailing of Messrs. Osbourne, Iommi, Butler, and Ward, Jazz Sabbath’s debut is a must-have. And a lot of fun, especially if you’ve ever wondered what Sabbath would sound like as dinner music.

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