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GROOVE COLLECTIVE 6/10, METRO Born out of the weekly jam sessions held since 1990 at the New York club Giant Steps, Groove Collective might well be the finest exponent yet of the fusion between jazz and hip-hop. Rather than opting for short, radio-friendly dance pop, they step out with plenty of solo space, and with accomplished, sturdy jazzers like trumpeter Fabio Morgera, reedman Jay Rodriguez, trombonist Josh Roseman, and vibist Bill Ware in their ranks they pull it off with aplomb. Over funky, big-groove vamps Groove Collective carve out a sound that encompasses postbop soloing, 70s soul-jazz slinkiness, and hip-hop rhythms. On their eponymous debut there are a few rap turns from percussionist Gordon "Nappy G" Clay, but for the most part they walk it instrumentally, finding a precise, fertile middle ground that denigrates neither of their bookend genres. LUTHER ALLISON 6/10, BUDDY GUY'S LEGENDS, 6/11, FITZGERALD'S Touring in support of Soul Fixin' Man (Alligator), his first major domestic release since relocating to Paris ten years ago, this native west-sider offers yet more proof of the ever-growing homogeneity of modern blues. Allison made his name back in the 60s by embracing the overwrought, rock-infected guitar playing made popular by Buddy Guy, but his new album reflects the worst sort of stylistic hodgepodge, one where individuality and personality are largely squelched by formalistic diversity. That said, you could do a lot worse than catching Allison; his guitar playing talents are prodigious, his soul-torn vocals have improved, and his band cooks. ELEVEN 6/10 & 6/11, ARAGON BALLROOM This LA combo appropriates the instrumentation of the jazz organ trio (organ, guitar, drums) for "alternative rock" purposes. Novel. They open for Soundgarden (see Critic's Choice) along with Tad. PRIMAL SCREAM 6/11, WORLD If it's been hard to figure out the fuss over Scotland's Primal Scream, give up, 'cause they seem hell-bent on making it impossible to care. Their new album, Give Out but Don't Give Up (Sire), was recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis with guest spots from George Clinton, Memphis Horns, and other American soul-session mainstays, but the band's relentless, tiresome jumble of Rolling Stones rips, watered-down club beats, and wannabe soul fails miserably at both authenticity and listenability. They open for garage rockers Depeche Mode, and opening for the whole ordeal are Chicagoan skiffle hacks Stabbing Westward. MARC COPLAND TRIO 6/11, GREEN MILL Pianist Marc Copland--who began as a saxophonist in the early 70s in groups led by Chico Hamilton and John Abercrombie, among others--leads a trio with bassist Dieter Ilg and drummer Jeff Hirshfield. On their recent Two Way Street (Jazzline), they admirably deliver a broad-minded interpretation of contemporary postbop, performing standards, originals, and even Johnny Mandel's "M*A*S*H" with skill and grace. DENZIL 6/11, METRO One-name popster Denzil hails from Bournemouth, England, and on his debut, Pub (Play/Giant), he shows himself to be drenched in Elvis Costello-esque wordplay and turns of phrase ("The miracle of life, what have we done? / We made a baby from a bottle of rum"). His band's ultraclean pop is reminiscent of stripped-down Crowded House or the straightest XTC. The album's flow gets clogged with too many jaunty mid-tempo lopes, but the cascade of sharply defined melodies is unceasing. They play before the Rosehips and after the Waste Kings. BLOOD ORANGES 6/12, EMPTY BOTTLE Even if this Boston quartet hadn't named itself after the brilliant John Hawkes novel, its new album, The Crying Tree (ESD), would still be appealing. Their richly flavored roots-rockish music is an obvious descendant of primo Richard and Linda Thompson, with sideways excursions into bluegrass and country. Main songwriter/mandolin player Jim Ryan--who also leads the straighter bluegrass combo the Beacon Hill Billies--and bassist Cheri Knight sing beautifully ragged harmonies, their voices plaintively intertwining, while lead guitarist Mark Spencer, who's been touring with Freedy Johnston for the last couple of years, peels off one wrenching yet restrained solo after another. While some of their stomping two-beat romps get a little close to annoying, the slower, more contemplative material--like the title track, modeled after Thompson's classic "Shoot Out the Lights"--packs a wallop. Dolly Varden open. 7 YEAR BITCH 6/15, LOUNGE AX Their voluminous press kit leaves the impression that Seattle's 7 Year Bitch are either riot grrrls or Babes in Toyland/L7 clones, at present the two most popular generalizations about aggressive female rockers; and after perusing half a dozen clips you might notice that in a sort of roundabout sexism most critics seem to be championing this extremely mediocre band largely because they are women. Tough, threatening women can be as exciting to men as scantily clad ones with large breasts, and while songs like "Dead Men Don't Rape" suggest that the band aren't necessarily playing up to stereotypes, it's difficult to imagine them earning kudos on the basis of their plodding, oversimplified punk rock. Their new album, !Viva Zapata! (C/Z), lacks the whiplash energy of their debut, Selene Vigil's vocals sounding tuneless and mannered. On the other hand, you usually only find sweaty, brain-dead men performing this kind of music, mostly for all-male audiences, so 7 Year Bitch deserve credit for trying to balance the equation. Holy Rollers and Loudspeaker open. CELL, ERIC'S TRIP 6/15, EMPTY BOTTLE After DGC Records scooped up New York's Cell on the basis of one single, their tedious debut, Slo-Blo, proved the move premature with its indie-rock genericism. While their new Living Room is hardly a radical departure, it does feature stronger songwriting, better dynamics, and a newfound tightness. Eric's Trip are musically schizophrenic: their potentially fascinating folk-rock excursions amble aimlessly, bumping into things and ricocheting off in unpredictable directions like Woody Allen in Sleeper. If you can overcome your frustration at the haphazard quality of their debut, Love Tara (Sub Pop), you'll notice that they've shuffled some good stuff into their messy deck.

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