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  Listen Up! 7/3/02 Listen Up!

Wednesday, July 3

Joe Lovano, “Viva Caruso,” Blue Note Records. I was a little worried going in, a jazz concept album paying tribute to Enrico Caruso. But, it worked brilliantly. It’s gorgeous stuff, with incredible voicings from a woodwind ensemble playing with his little group. The classical melodies Caruso sang translate beautifully to tenor saxophone, and Lovano’s improvisations, as always, are concise and literate. Lovely record.

Sonny Clark, “Sonny’s Crib,” Blue Note Records. Quite simply, one of the finest jazz sessions of the late 50s, years when there were dozens and dozens of brilliant performances put to records. The lineup: Donald Byrd on trumpet, Curtis Fuller on trombone, John Coltrane on tenor sax, Sonny Clark on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and Art Taylor on drums. Does it swing hard and relaxed? Yep, simultaneously, I swear. With some killer solos from all parties, this is a magnificent record, a joyous example of how good jazz could get.

Oasis, “Heathen Chemistry,” Epic Records. “The Hindu Times” rides a rollicking good guitar lick that riffs its way through one of the catchiest simple melodies of the year. After that, it’s Oasis as usual, which is pleasant Beatles-derived modern guitar pop, with little to knock your socks off. But, oh, that first single is glorious!

--Steve Pick



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