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[Off The Record]
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Dick Lourie
GHOST RADIO BLUES
(HANGING LOOSE)

Rarely do music and poetry work together as splendidly as this. In 18 selections, Boston poet and saxophonist Lourie captures the vitality of the blues and a passion for life — contemplating, among much else, the arrival of Elvis, the logic of blues song structure (compared here to childbirth), undiminished middle-age horniness, and the essential elements of his own existence. Lourie’s salutes to icons like Little Richard and Big Jay McNeely are full of zest, abetted by his lusty early-rock style of sax playing. And his tribute to the bar-a-night road life of Mississippi singer/guitarist Big Jack Johnson, " Blues from Clarksdale, " features an elegant performance from Jack himself crooning and pulling misery from his strings. Johnson also lends his sweet picking to the opening " 12-Bar Blues. "

But Lourie’s best work is his most personal. " At 59 " is a jaunty flashcard self-portrait. " New Jersey, " with its late-night organ-jazz soundtrack, evokes the complex relationships adults have with their parents. " Forgiving Our Fathers, " which appeared in the indie film Smoke Signals, plies the same kind of moody groove and emotional territory but seeks comfort in coming to terms with the past. Lourie’s voice is a gauzy but flexible instrument, utterly unpretentious throughout. And the musical performances and production are impeccable. (Order from Hanging Loose Press, 231 Wyckoff Street, Brooklyn, New York 11217.)

BY TED DROZDOWSKI

Issue Date: April 12 - 19, 2001