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  Listen Up! 1/29/04 Listen Up!

Thursday, Jan. 29

Eric Dolphy, “Out to Lunch,” Blue Note Records. We’re just about one month shy of the 40th anniversary of the day this classic album was recorded. Dolphy had only a few months to live, but this is a record of vibrant possibility, a grasp of the future that never came to pass. The personnel included some of the hottest young lions of the day – Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Bobby Hutcherson on drums, Richard Davis on bass, and the very young Tony Williams on drums. The music is challenging, yet accessible, and it’s a marvel to hear the way these guys listen to each other, and respond to every idea. Williams in particular is a marvel in this respect, and the interaction between him and Hutcherson is simply spectacular. They chop time up a million different ways together. Dolphy, Hubbard, and Hutcherson do the same thing to melody. There are heads to these songs, but they don’t stick around long before these guys are off to the races with fragments and newly generated sidebars. My favorite remains the title track, a march turned inside out, especially the parts where Dolphy lets loose a torrent of notes on his alto, and then stops on a dime so the other guys can play their bits. But, every piece on this album is a dazzling jewel of precision and economy and reaction.

Ernie K-Doe, “Absolutely the Best,” Fuel 2000 Records. Eighteen songs from the New Orleans hitmaker, best known for “Mother-In-Law” and a few other songs (“Get Out of My House,” for example) that sound just like it. Oh, yeah, and the sublime “A Certain Girl.” You either know you love this stuff or you don’t know it at all. To me, it’s all about the New Orleans r’n’b groove of the early 60s, which I find irresistible, and a lot of fun in the singing.

Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant, “Stratosphere Boogie: The Flaming Guitars of Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant,” Razor & Tie Records. Good gracious, these two guys were amazing. Bryant’s jazzy electric guitar lines vied with West’s futuristic steel guitar craziness as they tumbled their way through folk songs, country songs, jazz songs, and just plain exciting songs. This CD came out back in 95, and it collects sixteen amazing instrumental cuts from this magnificent tandem in their early 1950s prime.

--Steve Pick


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