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CD Reviews: Katahdin's Edge is being sadly overlooked

| Sunday, May 14, 2006

'The Ridge' Katahdin's Edge (Incline) Three stars

Katahdin's Edge is being sadly overlooked among the groups getting acclaim for freshening the sound of the classic piano trio. On "The Ridge," this trio puts together work far beyond that of, say, the Bad Plus or the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. It is far more pioneering than either of those bands with original music such as "Glad You Called," a ballad with a strident rhythm, or "The Path," a piece with almost a folk-sounding melody. Pianist Willie Myette has a great sense of melody and pace. Bassist John Funkhouser and drummer Mike Connors offer rhythmic patterns that are creative without ever being out of touch with the job of propelling a song. The group is named after the highest peak in Maine, and rises to that level.

-- Bob Karlovits

'You Do Something to Me' Boilermaker Jazz Band (Self-produced) One stars

Come on, folks, let's get down to it. If you are billing yourself as a jazz band, play the music, not dance songs from the '30s. "You Do Something to Me" besmirches interest in traditional forms by offering 17 pieces of old dance music instead of the New Orleans-rooted music the Boilermaker band can do so well. It also offers two remade commercials from Fort Pitt and Duquesne beers, two brands with all the freshness of the music. Naturally, the musical performances are good from the band led by clarinetist Paul Cosentino and featuring singer Jennie Luvv. But that is about the only positive thing that can be said about this tribute to the cliche.

-- Bob Karlovits

'Pearl Jam' Pearl Jam (J Records) Three stars

Lyrically, Eddie Vedder and his mates still are caustic, acute observers on the band's eighth album. "World Wide Suicide" and "Gone" are simultaneously personal and catholic in their concerns, reflecting uncertainty and discontent.

Musically, however, the band is showing new stripes, the guitar-fueled fire-breathing aspect of Pearl Jam occasionally giving way to more melodic, mellower sounds. "Parachutes" sounds like it could have been torn from a page of The Carpenter's songbook. "Wasted Reprise" is a short piece that's notable for its use of spooky, plaintive organ before segueing into "Army Reserve," which sounds like Pearl Jam doing Coldplay -- the guitars chiming instead of throbbing.

Not that the band has laid down its rock mantle entirely. The album's first three songs -- "Life Wasted," the aforementioned "World Wide Suicide" and "Comatose" -- could have been tracks on the last three or four Pearl Jam releases. But when the band starts writing songs the likes of "Unemployed" that verge on pop -- or as close to pop as Pearl Jam is likely to get -- one senses change is afoot. In this case, it fits them well.

-- Regis Behe

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