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Jazz CD Reviews
15 March 2000

By Mike Zwerin in Paris

PRINCE, "The Vault....Old Friends 4 Sale" (WB)
This material composed between 1985 and 1994, recorded in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Paris and Tokyo, seems to be coming from some exotic, faraway place where intelligent popular music is still being made. A "made in Germany" package, "originally intended 4 private use only." Good songs, well sung and arranged (one by Clare Fischer), and played by such key side-people as Michael B and Sheila E.

Speaking of intelligent pop music well sung and arranged, try this reissue from 1956. Clooney's sensitive versions of singular Ellington standards like "Mood Indigo," "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)" and "Sophisticated Lady"are accompanied by his franchise orchestra at its most orchestral - with Johnny Hodges, Harry Carney, Cat Anderson, Clark Terry, Jimmy Woode and the others. You might almost call it a song- cycle.

CINDY BLACKMAN, "In The Now" (High Note)
Blackman, who also works with rock star Lenny Kravitz, is one of today's better jazz drummers. Teamed with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane, the pianist Jacky Terrasson and with Ron Carter on bass - all in sparkling form - she has come up with one of the year's better releases. Fresh, smart, swinging - the way it ought to be.

MIKE WESTBROOK, "Glad Day - Settings of William Blake" (Enja/2-CDs)
The work of the veteran English pianist, arranger and leader Westbrook has long been tied to cultural, political and social awareness. His musical settings for Blake's poetry are, as described by the notes, "sturdy and fitting and leave space for Blake's ambiguity, irony and imagery." Accompanied by a children's choir and harmonically adventurous solos, the poetry is sung and recited by Westbrook's wife Kate, and by the bluesy art-song singer Phil Minton.

Mike Zwerin has been jazz and rock critic for the International Herald Tribune for the last twenty years. He was also the European correspondent for The Village Voice. Mike Zwerin is the author of several books on jazz and the jazz editor of Culturekiosque.com.

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