A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
Gary Smulyan, "High Noon: The Jazz Soul of Frankie Laine." Who knew that the voice of "High Noon" had a jazz side? Not only that, but he wrote some great songs, including "We'll Be Together Again." Baritone saxophonist Smulyan smartly explores Laine's songs, with a swingin' octet.
Maryann Sullivan on KBEM (88.5 FM). Despite dozens of jazz gigs per week in the Twin Cities, MPR chose to discontinue Sullivan's Saturday-night show. Lucky for us, KBEM was smart enough to pick her up.
The Eddies, Hat Trick Lounge. Five guys from the West Side of St. Paul, singing with minimal accompaniment, create great fun with sea chanteys and easy-to-sing-along tunes such as "Down in the Boondocks."
LARRY ENGLUND, St. Paul
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K'Naan, Varsity Theater. The Somali rapper combined consciousness, flow, passion, humor and musicality (he loves melodies) into a diverse, rewarding hour. The only misstep was a rote cover of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida," but his own "If Rap Gets Jealous" sounds like a rockin' hit.
Wheels on Fire, "Get Famous!" Imagine Elvis Costello fronting the New York Dolls in 1976. This Ohio quartet is on fire.
Grammy lifetime achievement awards. In a ceremony in a small L.A. theater, the Four Tops, Tom Paxton, Dean Martin, Leo Fender, Allen Toussaint, Brenda Lee and others were honored. The lone surviving Top, Duke Fakir, cried tears of joy. The children of the late Martin, the King of Cool, showed up, and so did the original Golddiggers. At the end of the emotional presentation, emcee Jimmy Jam said: "Even Morris [Day] would say, 'That's cool.'"
JON BREAM, STAR TRIBUNE