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  Listen Up! 3/6/03 Listen Up!

Thursday, Mar. 6

Various Artists, “The Heart and Soul of Bert Berns,” Universal Records. There should be a heck of a lot more than ten songs on this collection, but the skimpiness is made up for by the impeccable quality of what’s here. Never mind Janis Joplin’s versions. If you don’t have Garnet Mimms doing “Cry Baby” and Erma Franklin doing “Piece of My Heart,” run right out right now and buy this CD. In addition to those soul masterpieces, you’ll get a couple of classic Solomon Burke cuts, the incomparable “Twist and Shout” by the Isley Brothers, and some spectacular rarities by Freddie Scott, Hoagy Lands, and the Drifters. Berns produced all these cuts, and wrote about half of them. Highly recommended.

Trio Globo, “Trio Globo,” Silver WaveRecords. Interesting, but ultimately forgettable, project featuring Eugene Friesen on cello, Howard Levy on harmonica and piano, and Glen Velez on drums and percussion that came out nine years ago. The music doesn’t exactly meander, but it never really coalesces, either. You can weave in and out of it, which is a shame, because these guys are good musicians.

Orquesta De Jazz Y Salsa Alto Maiz, “Dancing in the Corn,” no label info. I don’t know anything about this band, but anybody who does a salsa take on Abdulla Ibrahim’s magnificent “African Market” is okay by me. And they cover Ruben Blades’ “Juan Pachanga” pretty well, too. These guys are very entertaining, not derivative at all. I bet in whatever small clubs they play regularly, they are about as good a time as you can have.

Ornette Coleman, “Of Human Bondage,” Antilles Records. Well, there it is. Harmolodic music is born. Ornette plays those beautiful melodies, those frantic improvisations, all to the funky, funky beats of Prime Time. Everybody plays off each other all the time, the music dances in our heads, and life doesn’t get a whole lot better than this.

Yo La Tengo, “Summer Sun,” Matador Records. Yawn. Oh, excuse me. I was put to sleep by a lullabye record disguised as the latest work from a rock band. Ira Kaplan is the ultimate musician of good taste who doesn’t taste good. I wish I could like Yo La Tengo, but I don’t understand why I should. Even when they rocked, they never did it in a way that distinguished them from the pack of sloppy indie bands of their era. But, now that they just want to make ambient pretty sounds, I really can’t figure out a reason to purposely listen to this.

--Steve Pick


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