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  Listen Up! 4/28/03 Listen Up!

Monday, Apr. 28

Jaga Jazzist, “Animal Chin EP,” Gold Standard Laboratories. So, last night I’m reading MOJO (the best music magazine in the world today), and I think to myself, hmmm this Norway new jazz stuff they’re talking about sounds interesting, but I’ll never hear it. And, I walk into work, and somebody left a promo of this record sitting in the CD player from last night. Synchronicity, thy name is coincidence. Anyway, I’ve heard nothing at all like this stuff, but I really like it. The rhythms are crazy busy, like drum’n’bass, but the melodies are unique, and richly developed. These guys use sounds that I haven’t heard in jazz before, as if they’ve decided synthesizers don’t have to reproduce the same five or six tones made famous in the 70s. There’s a lot of open space in this music, a lot of intrigue, a lot of energy. A new scene worth exploring.

Roy Hargrove Presents the RH Factor, “Hard Groove,” Verve Records. This is sexy and funky and delicious stuff. Jazz trumpeter Hargrove goes back to his Funkadelic closet and early jazz fusion stuff, recruits a group of like minded guest stars like Erykah Badu, Steve Coleman, Common, D’Angelo, and Meshell Ndegeocello, and just lets the music fly. Gorgeous and sultry.

The Dirtbombs, “Ultraglide In Black,” In the Red Records. Here’s a soul/garage rock band that has some personality to it. The songs are mostly familiar only to hardcore soul collectors, with the exception of Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For the City,” and Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up,” but I get the impression that they have good taste, and they don’t want to come close to imitating the originals. I’ve been told these guys are monsters in concert. This two-year-old album tells me they’ve been ignored too long.

Various Artists, “It’ll Come To You . . . The Songs of John Hiatt,” Vanguard Records. John Hiatt is, of course, one of the great songwriters of the last 30 years. It’s always amazing to think about how many of his classics have been interpreted by a wide range of musicians. Here, in one place, are ten interpretations from the last 20 years, and three brand new ones. Far from complete, of course, it’s a record with very few wrong turns and quite a few special moments. Wrong turns first: Patty Griffin’s new “Take It Down” is a bore, and the Eric Clapton and B.B. King version of “Riding With the King” just grates. Special moments: The obvious Bonnie Raitt rendition of “Thing Called Love,” the almost forgotten Emmylou Harris take on “Icy Blue Heart,” and most especially Rosanne Cash’s delicious “The Way We Make a Broken Heart.”

--Steve Pick


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