George Harrison's first composition and recording since beginning his much-publicized battle with cancer will be featured on "Small World Big Band," the new album by British musician and broadcaster J
George Harrison's first composition and recording since beginning his much-publicized battle with cancer will be featured on "Small World Big Band," the new album by British musician and broadcaster Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. Harrison wrote the track, "Horse to the Water," with his son Dhani, and recorded lead vocals for it on Oct. 1 at his house in Switzerland. The album is due Nov. 19 in the U.K. via Warner Strategic Marketing.
Reflecting the eclectic nature of Holland's long-running BBC television live performance series "Later," not to mention his wide range of contacts, the 22-track set features an extraordinarily stellar list of guests such as Sting, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, Steve Winwood, John Cale, Paul Weller, Joe Strummer, Dr. John, Taj Mahal, Suggs of Madness, Stereophonics, Marc Almond, Jay Kay of Jamiroquai, Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, and Eric Bibb, as well as Holland's former Squeeze bandmate Chris Difford, and Paul Carrack, who replaced him in that band.
Also featured are U.K. soul singers Ruby Turner and Mica Paris and Holland's regular vocalist Sam Brown.
"I was thrilled and delighted that George has been part of the album," Holland tells Billboard.com. "Not only is he one of the most important musicians of the 20th century, he was the lead guitarist in an incredibly popular group, and he was also of course in the Beatles! I was so honored, when I was looking for people to do this record with me, that he agreed."
"Horse to the Water" shows Harrison in fine voice and strong writing form, on a brassy uptempo song with a narrative style reminiscent of his sometime-Traveling Wilburys bandmate Bob Dylan.
Elsewhere, guests cover a selection of jazz, blues, and big-band favorites as well as tackling new material. Sting covers Willie Dixon's "Seventh Son," Stereophonics take on the Beatles' "Revolution," Paris and Gilmour remake the standard "I Put a Spell on You," and Suggs contributes the composition "Oranges and Lemons," a tribute to his friend Ian Dury, who died of cancer in March 2000.
"There's some people on here that are extraordinarily famous and some that aren't so well-known," Holland says, "but to me they're all great."
Holland and his Orchestra begin a two-month U.K. tour on Saturday (Nov. 3) in Norwich.