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  Listen Up! 6/24/03 Listen Up!

Tuesday, June 24

Joe Lovano, “On This Day . . . At the Vanguard,” Blue Note Records. This is one swinging record, with a rhythm section – John Hicks on piano, Dennis Irwin on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums – that’s playing like it wants to steal the show from the five sax/two trombone front line. I wish the recording was warmer. There’s a lot of mud in this mix. But, everybody is playing at the top of their game, and having a great time to boot. This album is due out in a couple of weeks.

Various Artists, “Wild Dub: Dread Meets Punk Rocker Downtown,” Select Cuts. English punk rock was suffused with reggae almost from the git-go. When you were on the dole, you mingled, or so it appears from the movies I’ve seen set in that time period. Blacks and whites, immigrants and natives, all learning a little bit from each other. Of course, the punks were more interested in aping Jamaican music than the other way around. This excellent compilation brings together some of the most exciting results. From the Ruts to the Clash to Generation X, we get the earliest bands exploring dub, and go on to the post-punk stars like Killing Joke, the Slits, and PiL. Ain’t none of this stuff would have gone over too big down in Jamaica – there’s way too much reliance on pop hooks, a lot more drive in the drum kit, and most especially, a lot less rhythm in the bass. But, as a document of an oft-forgotten essential component of the musical revolution we all lived through, this is fun, informative, and musically intriguing.

--Steve Pick


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