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  Listen Up! 1/28/02 Listen Up!

Monday, Jan. 28

Errol Garner, "Play Piano Play," Past Perfect Records. This label spent a lot of money on the packaging, coming up with a shiny silver slip case that worked on me; it's the only reason I picked this disc up in the first place. But, they spent no money on explaining when these recordings were made. Absolutely no detail at all. I'm guessing they were late 40s, as the songs are all around three minutes long, and the fidelity is less than perfect. The man is playing some piano, though, that's for sure. Garner was a lush pianist, a man who loved to play with a flourish. His imagination was always in play, and he could probably have played dozens of choruses of these tunes with equal aplomb.

Fletcher Henderson, "Ken Burns Jazz," Columbia Legacy. You've never heard Fletcher Henderson's recordings from the 20s sound this good before. They've worked some magic on these old sides, and they leap out at you with the vibrancy they must have had when you bought the 78s back in the day. This enables me to really connect with the excitement of the music, the creativity of the arrangements, the catchiness of the tunes, the complete package of what was the most sophisticated jazz band of its day. Great stuff!

The Byrds, "Notorious Byrd Brothers," Columbia Records. Scariano has this playing on shuffle, which is not to its benefit. Partly because this includes the bonus cuts, which are something like practice studio demos with chatter you can't really hear. Partly because this takes away from the delightful structure of the tunes as they go from the beginning of the album to the end. The good stuff on this record, which is most of it, is gosh darn purty, the Byrds at their airiest, most feathery light. They were experimental like everybody else who took LSD in 1967 was, but they stayed truest and best on the songs that focused on vocal melodies. (Not that there was anything wrong with their guitar playing, mind you.)

--Steve Pick



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