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A Night of Varied Beats : The all-female quartet Luscious Jackson plays it smart and cool with distinctive and spontaneous grooves.

August 27, 1994|LORRAINE ALI | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The New York quartet Luscious Jackson combines subtle hip-hop rhythms, harmonious vocals and smooth, organic instrumentation for an odd blend of indie-meets-the-street dance music. Though long an underground NYC favorite, the all-female band recently made a dent in the larger world of alternative rock with an acclaimed album on the Beastie Boy's Grand Royal label and a place on the "Lollapalooza '94" second stage.

Since studio manipulation makes up a good deal of Luscious Jackson's appeal on record, live the group hasn't always garnered the highest praise. But Thursday at LunaPark, the group came back with powerfully spontaneous grooves and a confident sense of cool.

Main vocalist and bassist Jill Cuniff sang in sweet yet street-smart tones, making the occasional noise of a police siren or emulating the woo-woos! of a 1970s disco song, while second singer and guitarist Gabby Glaser complemented with sexy, low-key raps. Samples via an on-stage deejay and aggressive drum beats provided hip-shaking material, while ultra-relaxed, woolly bass and guitar evoked the nostalgic hiss of a scratchy LP.

The band even ditched its instruments for one song and did an amateur dance routine for the howling crowd, then called two audience members up on stage who go-go danced furiously in front of the band.

There is nothing grandiose or larger-than-life about Luscious Jackson, but instead just four women playing smart and distinctive grooves, which is all that's really needed.

* Luscious Jackson plays tonight at Fuzzyland, Mr. T's Bowl, 5621 N. Figueroa St., Highland Park, 9 p.m. $7 . (213) 969-1433.

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