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  Listen Up! 6/16/03 Listen Up!

Monday, June 16

Bill Frisell, “Blues Dream,” Nonesuch Records. Frisell never stands still. This album, released two years ago, finds him leading an eclectic assortment of musicians with mostly jazz pedigree on a series of blues-inflected, sometimes country-sounding instrumentals which sound dramatically dreamy most of the time. The most fascinating bits are the interweaving of Frisell’s guitar and Greg Leisz’s steel guitars. But, that’s just what jumps out at me again and again. The whole darn record is gorgeous and full of nuances waiting to be discovered. Kinda like every other record Frisell has released these past fifteen years.

Various Artists, “From Clarksdale to Heaven: Remembering John Lee Hooker,” Blue Storm Music. This is an unpretentious, generally marvelous and occasionally stunning tribute to the late great Mr. Hooker. The biggest names come from England, with the likes of Jeff Beck, Procul Harum’s Gary Brooker, Mick Taylor, Jack Bruce, Gary Moore, and Peter Green stopping by for a cut or two. Yep, lots of great guitar work, and an emphasis on groove. Oh, and you probably should know right away the songs are great.

The Magic Band, “Back to the Front,” ATP Records. Here’s a novelty item for ya. A band paying tribute to Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band by recreating virtually note for note the classic original recordings, and the kicker is the band is the actual Magic Band. Alright, it’s at least four of the guys who were in the Magic Band at one point, including stunning guitarists Gary Lucas and Denny Walley, bassist Mark Boston, and most of all, John “Drumbo” French, who sings just like the Captain. And, yeah, I know these aren’t always note-for-note recreations, since there were some other guys playing on the originals some of the time. It sounds great, really, but what is the point of this? You can buy all the original albums, and be even more flabbergasted in the presence of genius.

--Steve Pick

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