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  Listen Up! 2/4/02 Listen Up!

Monday, Feb. 4

Sonny Clark, "Cool Struttin'," Blue Note Records. Here we have an amazing 1958 session that brought together Art Farmer on trumpet, Jackie McClean on alto sax, Clark on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums. Does it swing? Hard and fast and furious. Does it have amazing solo improvisations? Some of the most solid, inventive solos you'll ever hear. Does it have tunes worth getting excited about? Catchy little hard bop numbers, you bet. I dig all these guys, and I especially love the contrast between Farmer's bouncing, scattering trumpet and McClean's searing alto. The imagination never lets down for one second on this essential jazz classic. Bonus points (as if a record this good needed any) for the absolutely stunning cover photo of a woman struttin' down the street in high heels.

Kylie Minogue, "Fever," Capitol Records. There's no question that Kylie Minogue is an attractive woman. But, musically, she just doesn't do it for me. It's like house music with vocals that go nowhere, that are wafer thin anyway, and that never seem to stop. Thump, thump, thump, I have no problem with disco, but this is not very imaginative disco.

Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, "Buhaina's Delight," Blue Note Records. Ten days after my third birthday, back in 1961, Blakey assembled his toughest group of Jazz Messengers to give Wayne Shorter's brilliant mind a chance to prove itself. This was, I think, the first album of mostly Shorter compositions and arrangements, and, while less elliptical than he would get later, it's plenty serious about shaking up jazz styles of the day. Freddie Hubbard, Shorter, and Curtis Fuller make up the front line of trumpet, tenor, and trombone; Cedar Walton is on piano, and Jymie Merritt plays bass in tandem with Blakey's propulsive, powerful drums. This band could do no wrong.

Toshi Kubota, "Nothing But Your Love," Epic Records. Kubota is a smooth-toned, lightly funky r'n'b singer who put this album out to virtually no notice about two years ago. It's not bad, with lots of P-Funk ballad references in the ways the rhythms move, the keyboards squiggle, and the vocals writhe around each other. I'm not too wild about the material, though there's nothing inherently wrong with it. Pleasant, if insubstantial.

--Steve Pick



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