Robert Trujillo says the correlation between jazz and metal is clear – if you know where to look.
The Metallica bassist says jazz’s influence can be heard on his band’s records, as well as on classics by Black Sabbath. And while he admits most metal musicians don’t have the same level of skill as jazz impresarios, he says even the slightest flavour of it can spice up any rock track.
Trujillo tells Gitarre & Bass: “Lars Ulrich is not a jazz drummer, but he grew up listening to jazz. His father, Torben, loved jazz. Jazz musicians used to stay at their house.
“Lars grew up infatuated with the British wave of heavy metal and that’s his first love, but as a child, he grew up with all this jazz around him. So you listen to a Metallica song, and you listen to the drums, and they’re not necessarily swinging, but the arrangements are different.
“It’s more in tune with jazz arrangements. It’s not a traditional rock’n’roll production, in terms of the drums. So it’s really interesting how there’s this fusion between styles. And those are the things that make it different. A lot of people — like you average heavy metal fan — may not understand it.”
He adds: “Tony Iommi was really influenced by Barney Kessel, who was an incredible jazz guitarist, and loved jazz music. When you hear a Sabbath song and you hear chord voicing, it’s not just the generic bar chord – there’s actually flatted fifths and ninths. He’s doing jazz voicings, but that flatted fifth is bringing evil textures to it, and the distortion.
“And then you get the drummer, Bill Ward. When you hear his beats, he’s not just playing a straight 4⁄4 beat; he’s doing almost a hip-hop beat.”