CYRUS CHESTNUT The Dark Before the Dawn (Atlantic 82719-2). A spectacular young piano player who has already proved it at an Artpark Jazz Festival and is on the way to the Calumet Arts Cafe any minute now (Thursday to be exact). If his sense of form isn't quite as exciting and original as that of Jacky Terrasson (the other great young pianist around; add Geoff Keezer and Marcus Roberts and you've got a young jazz pianists' Rushmore), it's still pretty daring. Listen to what he does to "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" in "Sentimentalia," turning it inside out and fashioning powerful but entirely new shapes in his solo. Not only is his sense of where to put hammering ostinati original but his bubblesome, right-hand loquacity has almost all the electric charge of Oscar Peterson's but none of the chilly, machine-like proficiency (with his stubbier fingers, Chestnut doesn't always hit every note cleanly, which makes his prestissimo runs even more human and exciting). And when he makes something of his own out of a Bach Two-Part Invention, as he does on "Baroque Impressions," it turns into a waltz and then one of his entirely original solo flights. It's Bach, then, as part of a geometric musical stream of consciousness, not as mere pretentious allusion. A tremendous young player, with a fine young bassist and drummer to back him up (Steve Kirby and Clarence Penn). Rating: ****
-- Jeff Simon
THE BLUE MAX Soundtrack Music by Jerry Goldsmith (Columbia/Legacy JK-57890). THE ALAMO Soundtrack Music by Dimitri Tiomkin (Columbia/Legacy CK-66138). THE LION IN WINTER Soundtrack Music by John Barry (Columbia/Legacy CK-66133). Columbia's wonderful Legacy series has suddenly gotten into vintage film music and in a very big and splashy way too. These are, without question, the treasures of their recent outlay, especially Jerry Goldsmith's majestic score for John Guillermin's wickedly underrated World War I aviation movie "The Blue Max" which is one of the great film scores of the past three decades. Forget the tacked on "source music." It's simple, stepwise leitmotif is a perfect analog to the sudden exhilaration of flight. This is the most complete form the music has ever been presented in. Rating: ***** Dimitri Tiomkin overused his drippy "Green Leaves of Summer" theme in his score for "The Alamo" and underused the trumpet gallop of the title theme but his score for "The Alamo" is still regarded as one of the his greatest, if not THE greatest, certainly, of his many westerns. Rating: **** John Barry's Orffian mock-Gregorian choral music for "The Lion in Winter" is, without question, the most original music ever written by one of the most understandably lauded film composers of modern times. So different is this music from the Bond movies or "Out of Africa" or "Dances with Wolves" or his recent music for "The Specialist," that it will be a shock to many to find out it came from the same man. Extraordinary film music. Rating: **** 1/2 (Other recent releases: Johnny Mandel's music for "M-A-S-H", Malcolm Arnold's for "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and John Williams' for "The Reivers.")
-- J. S.
THE WHO Live At Leeds (MCAD 11215). Personal confession time: Back in 1970 I must have spent half the year listening to the Who's "Live at Leeds." My album soon wore out, and I never bothered replacing it -- until now. The Who continue to cash in by re-releasing old records on CDs, but this one is worth it. It's 77 minutes, featuring previously unreleased songs such as, "I Can't Explain" (My all-time Who favorite), "Fortune Teller," "Amazing Journey/Sparks" and "Happy Jack." Most classic rock is so stale it's better left for mindless radio stations. "Live at Leeds," however, is an exception to that rule; it sounds as fresh today as it did in 1970. Rating: ****
-- Anthony Violanti
VARIOUS ARTISTS Till The Night Is Gone: A Tribute To Doc Pomus (Rhino/Forward PRCD 71878). The late Doc Pomus was a towering figure in rock 'n' roll and R & B history with his songwriting skills. This album is a fitting tribute, starting with Bob Dylan's joyful rocker, "Boogie Woogie Country Girl." Shawn Colvin offers a slow, moody and quirky "Viva Las Vegas" while Dion belts out a soulful blues version of the old Fabian hit, "Turn Me Loose." Beach Boy Brian Wilson sounds the best he has in years with a surprisingly energetic, "Sweets for My Sweet." There's more: Lou Reed's spaced-out psycho rap on "This Magic Moment" and B. B. King's tender guitar and vocal on "Blinded By Love." Aaron Neville closes the album out with a delicious "Save the Last Dance for Me." This CD is a musical history lesson that pays homage to one of the true giants of American contemporary music. Rest in peace, Doc, you will not be forgotten. Rating: **** 1/2
-- A. V.
(1) Take a Bow, Madonna (Maverick-Sire). (2) Candy Rain, Soul for Real (Uptown). (3) Creep, TLC (LaFace). (4) Red Light Special, TLC (LaFace). (5) Strong Enough, Sheryl Crow (A&M).
(1) Me Against the World, 2Pac (Interscope). (2) Greatest Hits, Bruce Springsteen (Columbia). (3) Hell Freezes Over, The Eagles (Geffen). (4) Cracked Rear View, Hootie & the Blowfish (Atlantic). (5) "The Lion King" Soundtrack, (Disney).
WORLD MUSIC ALBUMS
(1) The Long Black Veil, The Chieftains (RCA) . (2) The Lion King: Rhythm of the Pride Lands, various artists (Disney). (3) Celtic Heartbeat Collection, various artists (Atlantic). (4) Celtic Legacy: A Global Celtic Journey, various artists (Narada). (5) Clannad Themes, Clannad (Atlantic).