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POP

Tony Bennett: Tony Bennett on Holiday (Columbia) Grade: B _ Tony Bennett pays homage to jazz legend Billie Holiday on his latest release: a musical libation from one revered jazz vocalist to another. Covering 19 of Holiday's more up-beat tunes, Bennett's ample sampling will please aficionados of both singers. The most notable aspect of this album is its "feeling," which in many ways contrasts with Holiday's trademark moodiness. Without Holiday's characteristically somber purr, Bennett paints a strikingly different emotional backdrop. There is no irony to Bennett, and the result is a straightforward performance with a generally sanguine flavor. Willow Weep for Me is a beautiful, bittersweet highlight, along with a technical duet of God Bless the Child with Billie Holiday. A lively and well-rendered tribute, Bennett provides a thoughtful assortment of music nostalgia. _ Christopher Blank, Times correspondent

POP

Van Morrison: The Healing Game (PolyGram) Grade: B _ Much ado has been made about the almost notorious spirituality pervading Van Morrison's body of work. But as Morrison approaches his 40th album in a career spanning more than 30 years, the question is whether he can continue to produce albums of his deeply personal vision while still engaging his devotees and critics. For now, he has maintained his critical appeal with The Healing Game, a collection of 10 songs that seem to catalog the arduous process of healing through introspection and soul-searching. Every song is an emotional transition from the previous. For example, Rough God Goes Riding, the first song on the album, is more anxious and cynical than the final song, The Healing Game, which displays the optimism of a person about to arrive full circle. The lyrics dominate the album. The music itself is usual Morrison, with soulful R&B and gospel influences, accentuated by smooth saxophones and acoustic nuances. But the tunes themselves are not as catchy as the emotional dividend. Though Morrison has said that he writes songs for others, the album is unavoidably autobiographical, offering a certain insight into the man (and, of course, the spirituality) behind that sonorous voice. As a songwriter his music has definitely changed with him. At his forthcoming appearances at Ruth Eckerd Hall expect to hear the songs from this recording. He is certainly not an oldies act. But Van the Man does pull the right heartstrings with this album, offering an inspired dose of his familiar genre. _ Christopher Blank, Times correspondent

ROCK

Jane Jensen: Comic Book Whore (Interscope) Grade: B _ Welcome to the comic book world of Jane Jensen. That's Jensen, not Jetson, although the animated future-woman is not a far cry from this Indiana girl. In her first release, Jensen takes charge with a sultry voice that lets listeners know they have escaped the Midwest and landed directly in the middle of her imagination. Her charm and intelligence rule the album. In this other-world, the sounds of PJ Harvey, Trent Reznor and Brian Eno meet through creative collaboration of rough rock 'n' roll riffs and sweet, sexy vocals. Thick bass and throbbing drums prevail in the opening track, More Than I Can Give, while Luv Song provides a comical, twisted country tune as the artist giggles and lists the preferred qualities in a new boyfriend. King is a lush, dance-inducing track. Jensen has released an impressive first album that will fit snugly into the collections of riot girls, techno and indie rock lovers alike, leaving all to look forward to her next endeavor. _ Samantha Spinrad, Times correspondent

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