Out today is Jethro Tull -- The String Quartets, a collection of a dozen Tull favorites arranged by keyboardist John O'Hara for, as the title indicates, a classical string section.
Tull founder and frontman Ian Anderson oversaw the project, providing flute for several tracks, while the Carducci Quartet played the tracks. Anderson tells us that it took time and care in order to make sure the album didn't seem like a kitschy gimmick:
"It came about a year ago when I was looking at various projects that I had just in the back of my mind, really, for the next couple of years. One of those was to do a string quartet album of Jethro Tull, classic rock songs, but to do it in an authentic way, not the band with a string quartet but just focusing on the string quartet with a judicious ornament additions from myself to remind people, I suppose, of the origin and give it a bit more of an identifying feature. It took a few months on and off during tours of meetings and discussions with John O'Hara, our keyboard player who was working on the arrangements, since he is a classically trained musician."
The album features arrangements of "Aqualung" (as "Aquafugue"), "Locomotive Breath" (aka "Loco"), including "Bungle In The Jungle" ("Bungle"), "Living In the Past" ("In The Past") and "A Christmas Song" ("Pass The Bottle"), a 1968 song that marked Anderson's first work with a string quartet. A new Jethro Tull by Ian Anderson tour kicks off May 26 with the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, followed by planned dates in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Europe and South America.
Anderson is also finishing up a lyric book, which will be illustrated wtih photographs from his personal collection and published later this year.
Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.