CD Reviews

CLASSICAL

Richard Robbins - Via Crucis (Point): Richard Robbins is best known as the Academy Award-nominated composer for movies like "Howards End" and "The Remains of the Day," but this ambitious suite was written for an art installation with paintings by Michael Schell, inspired by Jesus' crucifixion. "Via Crucis" is performed by a small ensemble including cello, winds, percussion, a couple of non-Western instruments, and three voices, with Robbins playing keyboards. The score combines an engaging minimalist pulse with a variety of textures and melodic ideas. In all, a fine example of religiously inspired music with a postmodern personality. Reproductions of Schell's paintings decorate the CD sleeve. -- David Sterritt

BLUES

Roy Rogers - Rhythm & Groove (Pointblank): On his first release for Pointblank, bottleneck slide virtuoso Roy Rogers holds his chops in check, playing with more taste than flash. The tempos are up and driving for most cuts, lending emphasis to the lovely acoustic waltz "For the Love of a Woman," a vocal duet with Maria Muldaur. Another highlight is a jazzy cover of Mose Allison's "Your Mind Is on Vacation." Rogers closes with the instrumental "Remembering You," where this guitarist's guitarist slows down the pace, puts down his slide, and lays down a tone to soothe even the most savage beast. -- Jef Scoville

ROCK

George Michael - Older (Dreamworks): George Michael's first studio album in six years is mostly a compilation of R & B songs, with the exception of the slick single "Fastlove." It's probably his most honest album to date as he sings "I've got to get back on my feet/I feel like I've been sleeping" (from "Move On"), referring to his contract problems with Sony Music. Unfortunately, the bland rhythms are stuck in a boring groove. Michael may be older, and wiser, but that's not enough to make a memorable album. -- Lisa Parney

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