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  Listen Up! 12/29/03 Listen Up!

Monday, Dec. 29

Hamiet Bluiett, “The Clarinet Family,” Black Saint Records. This album came out back in 1987, and I think I heard it around then, but never really listened to it closely. Of course, having it on in the background at work, while the heater roars away, isn’t exactly a careful study of the music at hand. But, I will say this record is in turn beautiful, harrowing, peaceful, and explosive. Bluiett, normally known for his work on baritone sax, turns out to be a fine alto clarinet player. He’s just crazy or brilliant enough to decide the world needed an album of many clarinets, and, since he knows all the best players, he could bring in the likes of Don Byron, J.D. Parran, and John Purcell, along with a bunch of guys whose paths haven’t otherwise crossed mine. In fact, we’ve got eight clarinets, along with a dynamic rhythm section (Fred Hopkins on bass, Ronnie Burrage on drums). You’d be amazed just how much music you can get with this unusual ten-piece line-up. Well, you’d be amazed if you didn’t know already that anything Bluiett touches is likely to be more than worth the time it takes to hear it.

--Steve Pick

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