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  Listen Up! 4/24/02 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Apr. 24

Keystone Trio, "Newklear Music: The Songs of Sonny Rollins," Milestone Records. How can this be anything but good? It's John Hicks on piano, George Mraz on bass, and Idris Muhammad on drums, playing the music of Sonny Rollins. These three professionals sound absolutely enchanted by this material; Hicks provides his usual magnificent lushly romantic sheen, ably supported by this magnificent rhythm section. I do wish I could say more than just bubbling about this, but all that comes out is it's awfully good.

Various Artists, "Winter Chill 3," Hed Kandi Records. Yeah, right, music is meant to chill out, to be loud, but mellow background music. I ain't buying it. Music is meant to have more things going on in it than this stuff does. It ebbs and flows like new age waterfall music. There are no musical ideas, just sounds holding a few notes that approximate melodies now and again. At best, some cuts approximate Italian pop music, which at least is mildly interesting.

Najma, "Forbidden Kiss," Shanachie Records. Najma has a beautiful voice, and when she puts out records of straight Indian pop songs, you've got something worth hearing. This, however, is all Indian film music, the one genre in the world more likely to annoy me than intrigue me. It's all over the place, sounding cheesy and degenerative, if that makes any sense. I hear interesting moments, but they never last. For some reason, this stuff sounds like cheap travel films to me.

Extreme, "Extreme," A&M Records. Ah, the clichés of hair metal. Big, gated drum sounds. Guitar arpeggios masking as solos. Power ballads. Vocalists harmonizing sweetly, with cries of anguish interjected. Extreme had no songs I remember from the olden days, but they do a passable sub-Def Leppard brand of pop/metal. I'm not opposed to that; neither would I recommend it to anybody.

Dio, "Killing the Dragon," Eagle Rock. Hey, it's good to know when you buy Charmin that it will always be squeezably soft. It's good to know that Budweiser will always taste like water. Brand names are supposed to be reliable. So, you can rest assured that a brand new Dio album sounds exactly like every other Dio album, with chugging guitars and soaring, full-chested vocals from the little guy.

--Steve Pick



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