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The Josh Roseman Unit
CHERRY
(KNITTING FACTORY)

Stars graphics

The "irreverent" eclecticism of this downtown New York unit puts so many ironic quotation marks around their enterprise that you could find the result offputting: jazz covers of Elvisís "Donít Be Cruel," Kurtís "Smells like Teen Spirit," and, of course, "Kashmir." Is the latter really a "great song"? Or are we just having so much "fun" that it doesnít matter? You can blame Sex Mob and the "groove" scene for de-emphasizing writing and solo chops in favor of booty-shaking laughs, but trombonist Roseman (whoís played with Groove Collective and Brooklyn Funk Essentials as well as with Bostonís Either/Orchestra) knows enough about pacing and variety to sustain interest. The ska "Donít Be Cruel" could be a novelty stunt, but youíd have to have a booty of stone to resist the articulation of Rosemanís talking plunger-mute trombone, or the phrase-ending bombs from baritone-saxophonist Jay Rodrigues. And Rosemanís own "Extra Virgin" and "Frank Mills Jr." have an airborne lightness, despite the density of instrumental textures.

Thereís also Marvin Gaye ("Just To Keep You Satisfied"), Bacharach ("In the Land of Make Believe"), an unnecessarily jazzed-up Lennon/McCartney (the touching flute/trombone ballad intro of "If I Fell" is worth all the ensemble razzle-dazzle that follows), and three by Sun Ra. And thereís an all-star cast, including John Medeski and the late Lester Bowie. For all its downtown knowingness, Cherry is the kind of thing that guarantees to translate as great fun live ó no quotation marks necessary. Maybe next time Roseman will reduce the covers in favor of his own writing. But that might be too much like "jazz."

(The Josh Roseman Unit play the House of Blues this Wednesday, March 27. Call 617-497-2229.)

BY JON GARELICK

Issue Date: March 21 - 28, 2002
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