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Published: Sunday, 2/9/2003

CD reviews: A diverse disc by Groove Armada

Groove Armada - the UK duo of Tom Findlay and Andy Cato - have kept some of the groove from their last disc, “Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub),” but have added much more. Soul and funk and hip-hop and disco all are represented on a CD that seems to revel in musical diversity.

And that musical range is reflected in the guests performing on the disc. They include Richie Havens, Nappy Roots, and Neneh Cherry, among others.

The 11-track disc kicks off with “Purple Haze” - not the Hendrix classic but a stripped-down blues boogie with hard-core guitar and given an extra kick with a rap vocal. And Kriminul guests on “Groove Is On,” a spare, lazily funky track.

There are dance cuts, of course, like the spirited ragga/house dynamo “Final Shakedown,” and the title track. But at times Groove Armada sounds more alt-rock than clubland. And on “Hands of Time” featuring Havens it turns in a perfect piece of retro soul. “But I Feel Good” adds a funk-ska mix to the blend.

While there is studio tinkering and sampling- the deeply chilled “Remember” samples seminal British folk-rockers Fairport Convention, for example - overall the disc exudes an engaging vitality to match its eclectic influences.

- RICHARD PATON

Two excellent Ohio bands, two dramatically disparate sounds.

Lab Partners, from Dayton, are rockers with a spacey approach that piles on textures of sound like big fuzzy blankets. The four-piece band, which doesn't feature a bass, builds elaborate soundscapes and then tears them down over the course of 72 minutes. Ekoostik Hookah, from Columbus, is more of a traditional jam band in the mold of Phish, the Grateful Dead, and moe. Its feel-good sound is organic and rooted in traditional rock, folk, and jazz arrangements. Highlight of “Ohio Grown” is the rambling “Raging River” with its smooth central riff and long guitar workout.

- ROD LOCKWOOD

Pianist/composer Kater assembles a stellar cast of seven Native American musicians for a haunting tapestry of their roots sounds. He artfully blends chants and driving rhythms into a contemporary package that keeps the listener's attention while retaining its authentic feeling and not lapsing into commercial drivel. This is ideal music for meditating and conjuring images that these native instruments and voices evoke.

- KEN ROSENBAUM

It's a bold, brassy triumph featuring voices of the principal actors, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Rene Zellweger, Richard Gere, and Queen Latifah. Perhaps the biggest surprise is how flawlessly Zellweger sheds her meek, girlish image to be as convincing a jazz singer as the sultry Zeta-Jones. The high-octane musical fun in this hot movie version of Bob Fosse's Broadway hit is more than just sass and strut: “Chicago's” vivacity has set a high standard for soundtracks of 2003 to match.

- TOM HENRY

The 11 tracks begin with Ray Noble's well-known “Cherokee.” From “Basin Street Blues” and moving through “April in Paris,” “Lester Leaps In,” “Moment's Notice,” and Herbie Hancock's “Dolphin Dance,” the Hampton arrangements alternate between solos with plenty of elbow room and tight charting with as many as a dozen trombones playing at once.

- LARRY ROBERTS

BRIEFLY NOTED

  • AXIOM: RECONSTRUCTIONS & VEXATIONS (Axiom/Palm) Eight tracks from three discs on the Axiom label are remixed in very different styles, from luxurious Latin to minimal dub beats, while retaining a world beat flavor blended with tech-y production. This is fascinating, alluring music. R.P.



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