Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Before he died in June, trumpeter-vocalist Doc Cheatham was our last link with the classic jazz of the Twenties. Still gigging weekly, he and his quartet proved that tradition as alive as he was on Columbia's sprightly The Eighty-Seven Years of Doc Cheatham in 1993. And at 91 he generated an even more convincing testament. Organized by 23-year-old New Orleans trumpet phenom Nicholas Payton, Doc Cheatham & Nicholas Payton (Verve) gathers an all-star New Orleans band ranging in age from barely 40 to nearly 80. Its sporty selection of pop and jazz standards that spring into vigorous polyphonic action as the players trade swinging choruses. And on most of them, the mild-voiced Cheatham, who only started singing professionally in the Sixties, interprets the lyric with a verve that recalls his mentor Louis Armstrong in wit if not timbre.


Cynics may figure that Wyclef Jean Presents the Carnival (RuffHouse/Columbia) is nothing more than a second banana's attempt to show the world that he's as worthy of attention as femme Fugee Lauryn Hill. If so, however, he does the job. This isn't as magical an album as The Score--the three-way vocal interplay is missed. But between its surprisingly witty skits, Caribbean borrowings that range from dancehall beats to Haitian patois, eternal Bee Gees sample, and unpreachy social conscience, this celebration stands a better chance than most well-meaning rap of impacting the audience it's aimed at.


Inundated with practical "slow jams" compilations that promise to bring a romantic evening to a carnal conclusion, I was relieved to receive the blatant Strip Jointz (Robbins Music). The concept: r&b to remove your clothes to. Professionally. As in Bump n' Grind, Dirty Cash, and Me So Horny.

Playboy, July 1997


June 1997 Aug. 1997