The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts on December 3, 1987 · 106
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The Boston Globe from Boston, Massachusetts · 106

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Boston, Massachusetts
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Thursday, December 3, 1987
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106
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r RECORDS Earth Wind and Fire TOUCH THE WORLD CBS f"" oaring Philip Ha i Icy and Mau-i rice While sing together again after a four-year sahhalieal ,", from EW&F, is like hearing . -.,- f rom an old friend. Ha i ley's familiar falsetto can still elicit chills, while While's harilone nicely retains the comfortable feel of your favorite leather chair. What's exciting is the new found energy and urgency that KW&F have gathered. KW&F have trimmed their mystical excesses, and moved their sound from the stars to the streets. The result is one of their toughest, most convincing records ever, 't heir spiritual message of hojjo in a frightful world remains sincere. Lyrically. White & Co. grapple with issues ranging from economic hardships on families ("Money Tight,") to political secrets ("System of Survival.") Musically, the menacing bass line of "Evil Roy" is but one example of the undercurrents of unrest that permeate the album. While much of the album jams vigorously, there are also some splendid tender moments by Hailey on "Here Today and Gone Tomorrow" and "You and I. They even acknowledge, and then move away from the past in (lie aptly titled "New Horizons. As with old friends, good memories are second only to the ones thai lfom ahead. - David Emerson Najee NAJEE'S THEME EMI America Who says a jazz musician can't recreate songs using reckless abandon and still maintain his originality? Najee accomplishes just that on his debut album. On the "Night Side," listeners are lured into a rendition of Anita Maker's "Sweet Love," and swept away on the catchy "Ik tclia Don't Know." Najee uses an innovative blend of funk. R&M. jazz and a soprano sax to juxtapose the lyrical harmony. The "Day Side" inlnxluces "Keel So G(xxl to Me," which uses riffs over-lapod by the soprano sax and an urban contemporary dance club beat. On "Na-jec's Theme" and "Mysterious," he changes his tune by using an alto sax in the midst of a heavy Ix-al. Although five of the nine songs on this album primarily are trademarks of other artists, Najee adds new life to them and makes a statement alxiut his own style. - Portia Scott Buckwheat Zydeco ON A NIGHT LIKE THIS Island Can the first Zydeco band on a major lalx'l prove to a generation raised in mortal terror of I-awrence Welk that accordion music can be cool? Well . . . maylx ; The hitch here is obviously not with zy-! deeo Itself, because the more traditional tunes provide this record's highs. "Buckwheat's Special" and "Zydeco Monkey Tonk" rock plenty hard; they're as flunky and Ix'al -Intensive as the dirtiest Tox-Mex, laying down the lxxgle with a fervor most bands can only aspire to. And songs like "Time Is Tight" and "Ma Tit Fille" capture the music's playful l.oulsl-ana country spirit. The trouble's In two covers. My attempting The (Masters' "Marie Marie" and Dylan's "On a Night Like This," Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural and company Inevitably lx-g comparison to those canonized rockers' definitive versions of the songs, and. as you'd exx-ct, they don't measure up. Ultimately zy-deco - and the Huckwhcat Zydeco baud - can make new converts on Its own Joyful terms. - Ted Dnr.dnirskl ' " f- ' . Si T I j,'" '"""'Salt-' I WHITE . . . hearing from a friend Chalice UP TIL NOW RAS For the past six years, the leading self-contained band and stage act in Jamaica has been Chalice but until now they have been represented in this country only by an impossible-to-find live album on the short-lived Sunsplash label. This new album represents the core of Chalice's live act, and admirably reflects the group's talents and skills. Chalice occupies a unique middle ground in reggae, being firmly rooted in the hard Jamai can style of dance hall reggae while also being llexible enough to add flourishes from rock, funk, soul and jazz. Their songs mix a wicked sense of humor ("Can't Dub") with a firm socialpolitical vision ("Stand Up") in such a way that they never stray towards silliness or ped antry. This album features several hits and LP cuts mixed (and some recut) with an ear towards America in (987. The album doesn't replace any of Chalice's Jamaican LPs, it will do very nicely for those who can't find them, and it's a great introduction to a terrific group. - Ue O Ncill Buster Poindexter BUSTER POINDEXTER RCA No. you don't have to lx' a David Jo hansen fan to love this debut album in his recreated pcrsonae as the world's hipx-st lounge singer. Muster Poindexter. Here, fronting a highly capable mini big band, the lianshocs of Hluc, Poindexter swings, swaggers and cnxms bis way through a widely varied collection of songs and musical styles with effortless and infectious case. What's constant song lo-song is Poindcxlcr's uncanny ability to make each his own. lie can swing from the wacky, off killer big band chestnut "Screwy Music" to a touching, straight to the heart rendition of "Oh Me Oh My (I'm a Fool for You Da by)" Ix'forc launching right into the Carmen Miranda style rumba of "Hot Hot Hot" (the album's firs I single) and his own pretty ballad "Heart of Gold" -never once pushing the tongue -in-chic (sic) humor or heartfelt sentiment to their obvious limits. It's Poindcxlcr's animated, brassy baritone and self effacing savoir-faire that pulls songs together. Add to that the always able support of the Uptown Horns, whose warm and versatile ensemble playing provides I he groundwork for most of the album's II songs, and the refreshing lounge aesthet ic pnxluclion values and you've got a record with as broad, wonderful and winning aH-al as yon can cxxrt to hear Ibis year. - David H'lfco' iff v ... MARSALIS . . . Swing, swing, swing Branford Marsalis RENAISSANCE Columbia This 27-year-old tenor and soprano sax player has long passed the point of being known mainly as Wynton Marsalis' big brother and. in many ways, has surpassed his more famous sibling as a jazz musician. For rhythmic agility, a sense of swing and a feeling for blues, Branford is ncaring master status. On this album, his third and best as a leader, he also reveals himself as a sensitive balladeer. Listen to his treatment of J. J. Johnson's "Lament" or Jimmy Rowles' "The Peacocks." I Ic sings like Ben Webster on the former, and stretches things out so slowly, so meticulously, on the latter that only someone who knows a lot about managing musical tension could keep it alive and this version, haunting and heart-breaking, breathes deeply. His solo on Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas" shows him scaling peaks more up-tempo, but no less risky, with equal fluency. The rhythm section, especially Kenny Kirkland on piano and Tony Wiiliams on drums, supplies brilliant support. - Fred Kaplan Various Artists 'HEARTS OF FIRE' soundtrack Columbia This soundtrack album, for a much delayed film about two generations of rock singers starring Hob Dylan. Fiona and Riix-rt Everett, is notable for the in elusion of three new songs by Dylan. The Ix'st is a cover of John I hall's "The Usual." a born-driven track bursting with wordplay which is aptly Dylanesque. 'Night After Night" is a jaunty romp with a soulh-of t he-border flavor, and "Had a Dream AIxhiI You, Maby" Is a lxse, bluesy rocker. The songs are hardly vital additions to Dylan's ociivrc, but they are spirited and feature ace backup by Frio Clapton and Ron Wfxxl on bass. The rest of the album contains five strident selections by Fiona. Including the howlers "Hair or The Dog (Thai Hil You)" and "The Nights We Sxnt On Karth." and a putrid pair by Everett. Dylan devotees should wait for I his album lo hil the bargain bins; it shouldn't lake long. - Urn I'apincun Jennifer Rush HEART OVER MIND Epic How many limes have you heard the story alxiut a New York kid going to Ku roM and then returning stateside as a musical star? Well. Jennifer Rush isn't a star stateside, yet. even though her l!)H(i "Power of Ixive" Is the all lime lop-selling single by a female solo artist in Fug land. But given this LP. with its invigorating cross-section of v(x-al styles ranging from pure pop lo disco to soul, she's not to be taken lightly. She handles them all, but especially shines on a steamy "Love of a Stranger" and the romping, self-assured title track. "Sidekick" recalls the Pointer Sisters' percolating "Jump." "Flames of Paradise" is a flashy duet with Ellon John that is sung with a verve and flair thai will make you want to dance. Rush is always at the helm of her songs, in total command. That type of confidence, coupled with her talented display of vocal versatility, makes hers a name lo watch. - Kevin Connal CLASSICAL Cheryl Studer, Dolora Zajic, Luciano Pavarotti, Samuel Ramey, with the Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala VERDI: Requiem EMI (CDs) Susan Dunn, Diane Curry, Jerry Hadley, Paul Plishka, with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus VERDI: Requiem Telarc (CDs) fi f ere is an 'n'('r('sl'ntf situation $ " two new recordings of the -. s Verdi Requiem, one with the ; . 1 forces of Ui Scala under the di-J W red ion of its music director Riecardo Muli. the other with an American orchestra of secondary standing con ducted by RoIxtI Shaw, and no solo sing crs as famous as Luciano Pavarotti and Samuel Ramey. Yet there's no question that the Atlanta performance is the more nearly satisfying (neither performance gels close to the classic recorded versions led by Toscanini. Giulini. Markevilch and others). The Scala ix-rformanee has a distinct advantage in its professional chorus which has bigger vxal guns to fire than the gtxxl amateur citizens of Atlanta. II also has Pavarotti in belter than representative current form. Hut beyond that there is trouble. The Ixxiklct announces that Dolora Zajic is destined to excel in I he great Verdi mezzo roles "for years to come," but that doesn't smn very likely unless she gels control over her voice, which is blowsy and unsteady in lone: Samuel Ramey is alxiul as terrifying as Manibi in "Conlulalis malodietis." Cheryl Studer replaced Mar garcl Price as soprano soloist at the last moment; her voice has come into full and glorious bloom since her student period apX'aranccs here and at Tanglcwcxxl. Hut her activities in Germany seem to have instilled in her a very non legato way of singing that is not appropriate in this music (or any other). Muli's conduct ing is Ixilh prissy and (centric. Shaw, on the other hand, has a natural, uuaf fcclcd. traditional way with the music, and he is of course America's finest trainer of choruses (I be Robert Shaw Chorale sang on the Toscanini record ing). Big voiced soprano Susan Dunn sounds more secure and involved than she did at Tanglcwmxl last summer, and this is an impressive recording debut. Diane Curry calmly and steadily sings Zajic rlghl out of the picture, and Paul Plishka brings a commanding sonority to the bass music. Tenor Jerry Hadley sings servlceably. although his timbre, as recorded, lacks allure. Tela re's cngl neers avoid the harshness of sound thai mars the Mull xTlornianee. - Richard Dior More Record Reviews Pages 6, 8

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