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Poppin' Up : Jethro Tull's Anderson Is Changing His Tune

June 10, 1995|CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Think it's strange that veteran rocker Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull has made an album of instrumental music for flute and orchestra?

Well, so did Anderson when someone at EMI's classical division suggested the idea. In fact, he thought it sounded a bit "Spinal Tap-ish." His initial response: "No way."

"It was one of those things where someone asks you to do something and you just say, 'No, I can't do that,' " says Anderson, 48. "But that's what really made me want to do it, the fact that it was going to be a challenge. It's not the sort of ugly rock-meets-the-symphony thing that's been so overworked, it's more accessible and less cliched."

Anderson plays the Pantages Theatre on Wednesday (sans orchestra) in support of "Divinities: Twelve Dances With God," the album that resulted from EMI's suggestion. Like the album, the tour features Anderson plus Tull's Andrew Giddings on keyboards and Doane Perry on percussion in a mellow style that is far from the old Jethro Tull volume level.

The approach isn't exactly new for Anderson. Tull's music had classically orchestrated tinges ever since the group started back in 1968, and his flute has always been a prominent part of the sound. After devoting the first half of Wednesday's concert to "Divinities," in fact, he and the musicians will turn in the second half to Tull classics.

"It's been hugely enjoyable," he says of the current tour. "I've found that there's a willingness of fans to support me outside of Jethro Tull, even in such a varying format, and that's personally very satisfying."

* Ian Anderson plays Wednesday at the Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., 8 p.m. Tickets: $26 and $32.

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