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Manhattan Transfer

In an era that relies heavily on the computer-generated and synthetically produced, it's refreshing to hear music that relies completely on human ability and talent. The Manhattan Transfer shows off its awe-inspiring a capella acrobatics on Swing, an album of 13 classics, including Jelly Roll Morton's "Stomp of King Porter" and Ella Fitzgerald's "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." The group adds a bright jazziness to all the numbers, performing at just the right speeds for a brisk East Coast or a sultry West Coast swing. Each member has an impressive vocal range. Cheryl Bentyne sports a smooth mezzo soprano voice but also has the ability to reach the above-high-C notes usually taken by Janis Siegel's sharp soprano. Alan Paul's limber tenor can limbo lower, just as Tim Hauser's grainy baritone can also operate on higher octaves. (Bernice Yeung)

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Bill Stockwell

Dan Hicks
Return to Hicksville: The Best of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks; The Blue Thumb Years

In San Francisco in the late '60s and early '70s, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks stood out. The Warlocks and Country Joe and the Fish had their roots in the jug-band tradition, a form Hicks also drew on, but there was much more at work. For one thing, Hicks dug jazz and cowboy tunes. Return to Hicksville surveys the band's astonishing musical scope. From the wry hop-along of "Where's the Money" to the Western swing of "Walkin' One and Only"; from the ineffable melancholia of "Canned Music" to the sublime harmonizing on "Innocent Bystander," Hicks and his mixed-gender band display the kind of facility that defied pigeonholing. "I Scare Myself," considered by some to be the band's finest hour, is just as enthralling now as when it was first recorded 30 years ago. This collection makes an excellent case for a serious reappraisal of Hicks. (Nicky Baxter)

Bud Ct.
Bud Ct.

It doesn't take an archaeologist to discover Bud Ct.'s influences. Without saxophonist James, Bud Ct. would fall into the morass of local bands that sound a lot like 311 and Salmon. After an enjoyable instrumental ("Nitrous"), "Warm Stuff" apes the rough-and-rugged thrash-metal moments of Korn and Deftones while switching things up with some nice jazzy breaks. Then, just as it pleasantly lulls one to nod city, the band opens up the wound and goes thrash again. Why? By contrast, the uplifting passages of "Gemco" represent the area that Ct. should really explore. Mike displays some excellent mic skills, although he borrows a bit too much from 311. Give this Ct. some time to mature (and focus all this built-up angst), and it might be onto something. (Todd S. Inoue)

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From the Sept. 4-10, 1997 issue of Metro.

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