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Pop Music Review

An Evening of Compelling Rock and Jazz from Cherry

October 05, 1998|SANDY MASUO

Although the title track of Eagle-Eye Cherry's debut album, "Desireless," was written by his father, jazz trumpeter Don Cherry, the music that the younger musician makes has more to do with singer-songwriter rockers like Neil Young and Tom Petty.

But when Cherry and his band hit the stage at the El Rey Theatre on Saturday, the quintet plunged into its music with more than a touch of the spontaneous spirit that is the essence of jazz.

Coming on stage after a well-received set by Gomez--the band that won this year's prestigious Mercury Music Prize Award in England over such solid competition as the Verve and Massive Attack--Cherry's band worked up some compelling jams throughout the evening. But even when it wasn't cutting loose, the crisp, smart playing gave more restrained mid-tempo compositions like "Permanent Tears" a snappier edge. Combining live drumming, zesty percussion and occasional electronic grooves, the rhythm section propelled the tunes along with understated strength.

Mattias Torell often struck up a vibrant repartee with Cherry, deftly weaving his guitar lines into the vocals to dramatic effect--especially during the moody, U2-esque "Shooting Up in Vain."

For his part, singer-guitarist Cherry was an affable frontman delivering his songs with laid-back passion for the sedate, sold-out audience.

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