Jazz Not Jazz
The duo Hue & Cry has posted a string of pop chart hits in the U.K., but has yet to crack the American market. This may be a plus in building a reception for Jazz Not Jazz (Linn LIN57; 59:51), an appealing collection which combines pop melodic sensibilities and tart modern lyrics with reverent, classic jazz-based arrangements. The Kane brothers (Greg on piano and Pat on vocals) smartly play off of seasoned vets like Mike Stern, who adds light-lined guitar work to the swinging "Iron Cage," but also show considerable chops of their own. "Free Like You," which opens with a spirited blast of horns, is a great showcase for both-with Pat's emotive, strong tenor stretching over Greg's club-styled piano falls. The pair draws from many classic motives, from the bubbly Rhodes surrounding Greg's dark piano figure on "Virus of Love," to the loping blue brass swagger of "Good and Evil." Pat's sharp vocals, which recall Peter Cox of Go West (the U.K. duo responsible for "King of Wishful Thinking" from the Pretty Woman soundtrack) add accessibility and angst, especially on darker tunes, like a twisted funk/pop read of "Makin' Whoopee." Both fans and new initiates to Hue & Cry's pop work may be happily surprised at the duo's wicked jazz imagination.