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Queen of All Ears by Lounge Lizards

The Lounge Lizards is certainly a musicians' band, one in which leader/composer/alto and soprano saxophonist John Lurie allows the players ample solo room to stretch in and to be heard; frequently alone and just as frequently in duos, trios and other multiples layered upon layer, round after round in thick, glorious earfuls that require repeated listening to even attempt to hear it all from the many different angles. On their passionate (hell, ebullient!) "Live in Berlin" Volumes 1 and 2 (recorded at Quartier Latin in 1991), the live Lizards show themselves to be very much about what the gathered musicians can create as a whole, with such stunning flow that the climax is as much tension release as joyous bliss.

"Queen of All Ears", the Lizards' latest, as a studio album, of course doesn't possess the continuity of a live performance, but does absolutely showcase what's so brilliant about Lurie and his Lounge Lizards - the leader's ability to write looping, sensual, flowing tunes that come and go, stop and start, rise and fall, and mimic life in all its glory and broken heartedness, along with excellent judgment in putting together musicians who have the talent to play from the gut and the passion to play from the soul.

Like the film "L.A. Confidential" which received no Oscar nominations for its fine male lead and supporting performances, the Lounge Lizards "Queen of All Ears" (a reference to a Jimi Hendrix "Electric Ladyland" liner note) has too many great performances to single any particular one out. Caveat emptor: "Yak" (second-to-last tune), with Lurie's somewhat annoying off-the-cuff sounding rap doesn't really come off and puts a kink in an otherwise beautifully linked chain.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Lounge Lizards
  • CD Title: Queen of All Ears
  • Year Released: 1998
  • Record Label: Strange & Beautiful Music
  • Musicians: John Lurie (alto& soprano saxophones, vocals on "Yak"); Steven Bernstein (trumpet); Michael Blake (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet); Ben Perowsky (percussion); Evan Lurie (piano, organ); Jane Scarpantoni (cello); David Tronzo (bass); Calvin Weston (drums).
  • Rating: Five Stars
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