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  Listen Up! 1/23/02 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Jan. 23

Earth, Wind & Fire, "Gratitude," Columbia Legacy. The classic live document of EWF back in the mid-seventies. Great songs, great energy, great performances.

Larry Vuckovich, "Blue Balkan Then & Now," Tetrachord Music. This is a perfectly fine album of solid jazz. Vuckovich plays piano, and has a nice firm style. But the most distinctive musician here is Eric Golub, who contributes a stirring violin on eight of the thirteen cuts. The idea of this CD is to reissue a 1981 album, and augment it with a few newly recorded tunes by many of the same musicians on the original. I can't really tell the difference offhand between the two eras of recording.

Jay-Z, "Unplugged," Roc-A-Fella Records. Great live hip-hop record, the best record the Roots have ever been on. The reason? Jay-Z is a hoot, a man who understands hooks and pop music in the context of hip-hop. This is a marriage of brilliance, because they give him better backing than any of his samples have ever done.

--Steve Pick



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