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Published : 2014-04-25 20:31
Updated : 2014-04-25 20:31

MC5’s Wayne Kramer returns with jazz album

Wayne Kramer
“Lexington”
(Industrial Amusement)

It’s been 14 years since Wayne Kramer released an album, and the former MC5 guitarist says he expects fans of his work with that seminal punk-metal band might be annoyed with his journey into improv jazz in “Lexington.”

Baffled might have been a better word choice, but those who stick around until the end will be pleasantly surprised -- and rewarded.

Kramer, who in recent years has been busy scoring films such as “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby,” began his migration toward jazz while doing the music for “The Narcotic Farm,” a 2008 PBS documentary about the federal prison in Lexington, Kentucky, where he served two years in the 1970s for dealing cocaine.

With help from an eight-piece ensemble that includes a horn section led by trumpeter Charles Moore, he makes that migration complete in the eight instrumental tracks contained here.

And while the loud, screaming chords that once defined his signature work on albums like “Kick Out the Jams” are nowhere in sight, Kramer’s own deft use of quieter guitar runs played in counterpoint to piano and trumpet, show that at age 65 he’s lost none of the skill that led Rolling Stone magazine to declare him among rock music’s 100 greatest guitarists.

Listen closely, particularly to “Chasing a Fire Engine” and “Spectrum Suite,” which open and close the recording, and old fans will even discover some of the sonic distortion they once embraced. (AP)


Kelis remains versatile on ‘Food’

Kelis
“Food”
(Ninja Tune)

Hungry for good music? Order Kelis’ new album, “Food.”

The R&B-pop-dance-soul singer, who had a breakthrough with the 2003 adventurous hit “Milkshake,” returns with an album full of soulful horns, lush strings and thumping piano keys that feel grand. A huge departure from 2010’s electronic dance album, “Flesh Tone,” Kelis’ latest release shows she’s just as versatile as her Neptunes-produced 1999 debut, “Kaleidoscope.”

With the success of “Milkshake,” it’s fitting that the Le Cordon Bleu-certified chef and saucier finds success with cuisine-themed tunes, as she intertwines her love for food and music. Entirely produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, “Food” is her most mature album to date.

Kelis masters a mix of jazz-funk (“Jerk Ribs,” “Hooch”), Afrobeat (“Cobbler,” “Change”) and gospel (“Breakfast,” “Biscuits n’ Gravy”) on her sixth album. Her smoky, sultry vocals perfectly match the blues-inspired “Floyd,” in which she asks her lover to bring some surprise and excitement to romance. “I want to be blown away, blow me away,” Kelis angelically coos.

The remake of Labi Siffre’s “Bless the Telephone” is a welcome departure from the rest of the album with minimal acoustics and additional vocals by Sal Masekela that channel Simon & Garfunkel.

Kelis, who has launched a line of sauces called Feast, offers musical sustenance with “Food.” She continues to reinvent herself with each album, while refusing to be boxed into one music category. Wonder which genre she will conquer next? (AP)


G. Love keeps grooving on ‘Sugar’

G. Love & Special Sauce
“Sugar”
(Brushfire Records)

It’s been 20 years and G. Love & Special Sauce are still grooving with their blues-meets-hip-hop sound.

G. Love (born Garrett Dutton), Jimi “Jazz” Prescott and Jeffrey “Houseman” Clemens made the band’s self-titled debut album in 1994, winning over fans with G. Love’s harmonica and guitar, Jimi Jazz’s stand-up bass and Houseman’s drums.

The trio is back together on “Sugar,” with their signature mix of bluesy tracks and songs with more mainstream appeal.

As the name suggests, “Weekend Dance” will get you up off your feet while “Saturday Night,” “Cheating Heart” and the title track keep with G. Love’s long-time themes of good times and getting over heartbreak.

“Sugar” -- G. Love’s first album since 2011’s “Fixin’ to Die” -- features appearances from Ben Harper, Marc Broussard and New Orleans horn player Shamarr Allen. One track not to miss: “One Night Romance” pairs G. Love with gospel and soul singer Merry Clayton.

“Sugar” should give G. Love plenty of material for a summer tour that starts in July. (AP)

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