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  Listen Up! 1/4/02 Listen Up!

Friday, Jan. 4

Jason Moran, "Black Stars," Blue Note Records. I enjoy this record, but I don't love this record. I like the interplay between Moran's piano and Sam Rivers on tenor sax, soprano sax, or flute. I like the way Rivers takes his time on his solos, exploring individual notes or phrases, embracing them, moving on only when he is satisfied he's done all he can with the last one. I like the luxuriousness of Moran's spare melodies, if that makes any sense. I've played this a few times over the last few months, and it hasn't done anything more than entertain me. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but this music sounds like it should be devastating.

The Mighty Hannibal, "Hannibalism!," Norton Records. Hannibal was one of those guys on the rock'n'soul circuit from the late fifties to the early 70s. Basically, he never made it big, but not for lack of trying, or from lack of trying on new musical identities. While there was always a strong, I mean strong, James Brown influence on his vocal style, he bounced around from aggressive rockabilly to Memphis soul over the years. One thing that is clear from this packed-to-the-gills compilation. He was always great at whatever he did. The man invested funk and energy into every explosive cut. He didn't oversing, he just laid into the groove, and made you want to dance. Talk about a happy-feet record. 28 cuts, and not a clinker amongst them. I'm gonna give best-of-the-album props to "I Need a Woman ('Cause I'm a Man)," something that expresses yearning for sex like few records ever have.

Venom, "Black Metal," Victoria Records. These guys aren't any better than they were when I first heard this crappy, incompetent speed metal gore almost 19 years ago at my first record store job. They can't play very well, but they play fast, and they growl.

--Steve Pick



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