Denny Seiwell, the original drummer in Paul McCartney's Wings, makes no apologies for tapping some of that repertoire for his Denny Seiwell Trio. The jazz outfit included five McCartney song on its first album, Reckless Abandon, while the upcoming Boomerang will feature a bluesy shuffle treatment of “Live and Let Die,” premiering exclusively below.
“On the first album I thought if we stood a chance of catching a little more interest we should just do some McCartney tunes,” the New York-born Seiwell, who joined Wings after playing on Paul & Linda McCartney's 1971 album Ram, tells Streets Talkin. “So we did a few tunes that would lend themselves to the jazz format and when I would do these Beatle Fests in New York and Chicago and stuff the fans were more apt to buy the record if it had McCartney material on it. And I thought for this one we should have at least one McCartney track, and it would probably help with sales, so I said, 'Why don't we do the track I'm best-known for,' which is 'Live and Let Die,' and we knocked it into shape, trying to keep as much of the record as we could in our original. It's a fun tune, and it didn't take very much time to whip that into shape.”
McCartney, he adds, has checked off on all of the Seiwell Trio's versions of his material, including “Live and Let Die.” “He loved everyone one of 'em,” Seiwell reports. “I sent him the first album and he just got a kick out of it, and then as soon as we did 'Live and Let Die' he wanted to hear it and he thought it was just great — 'Very cool,' he said. “Live and Let Die,” composed and recorded for the 1973 James Bond film of the same name, was the last thing Seiwell did with Wings before leaving to return move to Los Angeles and resume his jazz career. Seiwell has seen McCartney's pyrotechnic-laced live performances of the song over the years, and he does not mind being away from that particular fray.
“I was there when we did the TV special and they blew the piano up, and that was enough for me,” Seiwell recalls with a laugh. “The poor violin players that were scattered behind us, they did not know that this thing was rigged to blow up at the end of the song; They put a little too much power in there and when it blew it swept Henry (McCullough, Wings guitarist) off his feet and the lid of the piano was made out of balsa wood and it was like a ball of flame that went up and over the violin players' heads and they were clutching their Stradivariuses and, oh my God, I thought someone was going to have a heart attack.
“I've seen Paul's show a couple of times and it's really nice they way they do it, but I don't need that anymore.”
Seiwell is, in fact, happy enough in the more sedate confines of his Trio, which he formed seven years ago with guitarist John Chiodini and organist Joe Bagg. “It was something I'd really been looking for all my life,” the drummer says. “I've always had that love for jazz and after making a couple hundred pop records for everybody on the planet I thought it's just time to revisit that, and I always wanted to have an organ trio.” In addition to “Live and Let Die,” Boomerang (out in September and available for pre-order) features six originals by Chiodini and Bagg — Edgar Winter plays saxophone on the latter's “Baby Mama” — as well as covers of songs by Caesar Carmargo Mariano, Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn and Eddie Daniels.
“I think we've got something unique,” Seiwell says, “and the more we play together it just keeps getting better — even though we don't have that much time together, actually, to perform live. But every time we play we'll catch ourselves going for the same thing at the same time and playing a lot of licks and figures together. There's always smiles when we play. It really is one of those musical situations you wait for your whole life and then bang, it's here.”