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JAZZ
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The Independent Culture
Kenny Wheeler: Angel Song (ECM, CD). This is no soloist plus rhythm section date (indeed, there's not even a drummer), but a kind of jazz- chamber music for four parts: trumpeter and flugelhornist Wheeler (who has written the tunes), alto saxophonist Lee Konitz, bassist Dave Holland and guitarist Bill Frisell. It's a dream of an album, meditative and melancholy by turns, and the music deepens further with every hearing. Wheeler has made some astonishing records but this may be his masterpiece. Phil Johnson

Orquestra Was: Forever's a Long Long Time (Verve Forecast, CD). Don Was, producer to the stars (Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson among them), and co-leader of Was Not Was, one of the funkiest bands ever, has really pushed the boat out for this one. Ostensibly based around a set of little-known tunes by Hank Williams, and rearranged for a band that, at various times, includes such strange bedfellows as Merle Haggard, Herbie Hancock and Sheila E, the music swaggers along in superior jazz-funk mode, with the wonderfully lived-in vocals of veteran Was Not Was singer Sweet Pea Atkinson binding it all together. The "enhanced" CD includes a CD- Rom mini-movie, directed by Was and produced by Francis Ford Coppola, which stars Sweet Pea and, oh yes, Kris Kristofferson as the ghost of Hank Williams. No, this isn't an April fool; and yes, it's great. PJ

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