Piano great Joe Jackson is paying homage to a legend that came way before his time with the new covers album, ‘The Duke.’ The disc is a collection of reinterpreted Duke Ellington classics as done by Jackson and his band, along with special guests like Iggy Pop, Steve Vai, and The Roots’ Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson among others.

 

Jackson tells Spinner.com that his love for Ellington goes beyond the music. He states, “When he was starting out in the late 1920s, he was a young, very talented black man in a racist society. And the way he handled that was with complete and utter dignity. I find Ellington a very inspiring figure even though I’m a white guy from England.”

Jackson says he first became aware of Ellington as a teenager and only grew to love his music more once he became a music student and started focusing his educational pursuits in that direction.

The singer’s new album is a passion project, as he explains, “Even though I didn’t actually write the tunes, I still had to make it my own album. The process was very much the same. You start getting ideas and one thing leads to another and you experiment. In this case, it was in terms of arranging rather than composing.”

As for having Iggy Pop appear on the cover of ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),’ Jackson says, “That’s what makes it fun! When I had the idea to use him I was really just playing around with the arrangement and trying different keys for my voice, including singing lower than I normally do. Then I just suddenly heard Iggy’s voice in my mind. I thought, ‘Well, if it’s gonna be a deeper voice, maybe it should be someone who really has a deeper voice.” Jackson says the fact that it’s Iggy Pop is something that no one would expect and makes it one of the more fun tracks on the disc.

Joe Jackson’s ‘The Duke’ album is in stores now.

Listen to Joe Jackson With Iggy Pop on ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing, If It Ain’t Got That Swing’