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maroon: Migratory

Dan McClenaghan By

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Think back to the time you heard a song out of the blue—on the radio, say, or at a friend's at a wee hours listening session—that sounded so fresh and new that it stunned you. Sounds that seemed to sparkle out of the speakers like something from the Fourth of July. Something like Elvis on Sun; Dylan's new electricity in '65; Joanie Mitchell claiming to be raised on robbery; Hendrix howling about the Watchtower; Billie Holiday lamenting the strange fruit.

Maroon's Migratory is that same ionized experience

Maroon is vocalist Hillary Maroon and keyboardist Benny Lackner, joined by bassist Andrew Emer and a rotating trio of top notch drummers

The CD opens with what, in a perfect world—where the play list hasn't been pasteurized—would rise up the charts as a hit. "Welcome to Brooklyn", a song that throbs into existence on a catchy six note bass throb, followed by Hillary M's spoken question: "What the hell am I doing here?" that she follows up on by soaring into song. She sounds like Judi Silvano mixed With Carmen McCrae and Cassandra Wilson, while Benny L. pounds out some Fender rhodes dissonance like a glass wind chime in a stiff breeze. Dissonance that then swirls into delicate melodic hooks tendrilling around Hillary's horn-like (from soprano sax to flugelhorn) vocals.

The music on the CD will beg the "but is it jazz" question; and not that it matters but it undeniably is on Ellington's "Caravan" and a dark blue, quirky, percussive version of Duke's "Asure". And the Charlie Haden/Abbey Lincoln gem, "First Song" is jazz; but if Dylan's weary and resigned (his version; Maroon's holds out hope) "Love Sick" isn't, it is a remarkable and surprisingly lovely rendering of a tune suffused with a growling, low down disgust concerning that thing called love. Hillary Maroon's wry "Stray Boy Blues" is another made-to-be-a-hit-pop-song tune, her ode to the those exasperating young dandies she can't help but love.

What the hell is she doing here? She and Benny Lackner are making some of the freshest, finest new music around.

Track Listing: Welcome to Brooklyn, In the Path of Your Gaze,Dreams, Migratory,she's So Lovely, Caravan, Played Yourself, Azure, Love Sick, Stray Boy Blues, First Song

Personnel: Hillary Maroon, voice; Benny Lackner, keyboards; Andrew Emr, bass; mark Tewarson, guitar; Mark Ferber, drums; Allison Miller, drums; Pheeroan akLaff, rums; J Why, percussion, producer

Title: Migratory | Year Released: 2002 | Record Label: Head Fulla Brains


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