- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 16, 2001

JOE HENRY
Scar(Mammoth Records)
Singer-songwriter Joe Henrys latest CD, "Scar," leaves a distinct audio impression, a faint feeling of melancholy and loss that ebbs without disappearing. The album comes from Madonnas brother-in-law, a connection one never would surmise listening to the album or any of Mr. Henrys previous offerings. The two do share an affinity for change, though. But while Madonna sings with the dance hall firmly in mind, Mr. Henrys affecting ballads recall darker themes, sour romances and emotional scars that never seem to retreat.
The ever-evolving singer-songwriter hatches 10 jazz-inflected tunes for "Scar," a sometimes somber assortment sung in his crackling growl. Mannered phrasing takes some of the sting out of his limited vocal range. His concise lyrics do the rest.
Saxophone great Ornette Coleman adds a free-form, blues tint to the opening track, the curiously titled "Richard Pryor Addresses a Tearful Nation," which is as morose and affecting as its title suggests.
The conventional chorus of "Mean Flower" mars an otherwise appealing track, while the rumba beat of "Stop" proves to be alluringly simple. The latter is also a cover, of sorts, of Madonnas hit single "Dont Tell Me."
"Edgar Bergen" finds Mr. Henry at his most melodic. The album also offers one pure instrumental, "Nico Lost One Small Buddha," with its squawking guitars crashing against waves of feedback.
But "Scar" exists for its quieter moments, and though a few tracks stagger under the lyrics emotional weight, the overall impression is one that listeners wont mind enduring.

— Christian Toto

JOSHUA BELL
West Side Story Suite(Sony Classical)
Few people can resist "West Side Story," the lead on this latest album by wunderkind violinist Joshua Bell. The poignant melodies are grounds alone for certain nostalgia. These were some of the greatest contributions to American musical theater from the late, great Leonard Bernstein.
Unfortunately, the title is deceptive. The medley here takes up only limited play time. Were not getting all those powerful "West Side Story" tunes in one place, but a 19-minute tease. After this, we hear some of the Mr. Bernsteins less imposing works.
The somber "Serenade," technically "Serenade for Violin and String Orchestra," lasts more than 30 minutes and is followed in a curious juxtaposition by a brief rendition of the jaunty "New York, New York (Its a Wonderful Town)" from "On the Town." "Lonely Town" and "Make Our Garden Grow" are the other offerings.
Conductor David Zinman and the Philharmonia Orchestra provide colorful accompaniment to Mr. Bells romantic interpretations of numbers. Best to just let yourself float through the music, knowing you are in the hands of masters, however improbable the mix.
Mr. Bells Web site reports that he will perform "West Side Story Suite" with the New York Philharmonic in Central Park on July 10 with the concert scheduled for broadcast on PBS later this summer.

— Ann Geracimos

Steve Ducey
Trust Your Stars(Mystery Track Records)
This solo debut from Maryland artist Steve Ducey spotlights what could be a rising talent in the local music scene, despite some stumbling on his first album. Mr. Ducey favors slow, country-style ballads over harder rock, but his strongest material happens to be those faster numbers.
The standout track probably is "Wrap Around Blues," a classic blues number with lines such as "Well, my woman hasnt phoned me" backed by a catchy, heartbreaking riff. "Lucky Seven," the heaviest track, is also the most spiritual on the album.
Unfortunately, Mr. Duceys lyric-writing skills are not quite on par with his musical talent. Cliches such as "I looked into your eyes/Windows to your soul," are thrown out without any real context or deeper meaning behind them. This is a shame because Mr. Ducey has a ready-for-radio voice and an ear for old-fashioned love songs.

— Derek Simmonsen

VARIOUS artists
A Twist of Marley(GRP)
Pop-jazz guitarist Lee Mack "Captain Fingers" Ritenour assembled an all-friends lineup for "A Twist of Marley" to celebrate the songs of reggae deity Bob Marley, with varying results.
Energetic treatments and inventive interpretations, such as the pattering world beat for "Redemption Song," are few.

— Associated Press

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide