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  Listen Up! 1/30/03 Listen Up!

Thursday, Jan. 30

Ustad Zakir Hussain, “Essence of Rhythm,” Polygram India. Really cool Indian tabla (or whatever those hand drums are called) music. Occasional bits of other instruments, but mostly just percussion, and its fairly captivating.

Art Tatum, “The Definitive Art Tatum,” Blue Note/Verve Records. Of course Tatum played more piano than just about anybody before him, and almost everybody after him. There are some amazing cuts on here, too. But, this isn’t necessarily his definitive stuff, since it doesn’t include the amazing series of albums released years ago on Pablo. Oh, well, enjoy whatever you can get of this guy.

Christina Aquilera, “Stripped,” RCA Records. First of all, let me just say how appalled I was to hear Simon Cowell condemn Christina as a slut on “American Idol” last week. I don’t know enough about Aquilera’s real sexual identity to comment on it, but I know that traditionally, the patriarchy uses terms like “slut” to keep female sexuality under control. I’m not saying Christina Aquilera should be considered a feminist icon, but I am saying that she shouldn’t be condemned just because she’s become a blatantly sexual being. Musically, however, most of this album deserves condemnation. I was impressed with the r’n’b ballad “Walk Away,” and the Alicia Keys song sounds like a pleasant Alicia Keys outtake, and the Linda Perry cuts are at least workmanlike. The rest is contemporary overdone R’n’B pop, without joy or imagination at work.

--Steve Pick

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