The Curse of Blondie (Sanctuary)
One way or another, this New York City-formed rock band finds a way to keep it together and produce quality tunes. The follow-up to 1999’s No Exit (an album that put Blondie back on the charts thanks to the hit “Maria”) keeps the components that fans love together. The album shows that flaxen-haired singer Deborah Harry can still hit the high notes, and founding member Chris Stein, along with longtime drummer Clem Burke, holds true to the familiar sound that made the band, while adding some fresh touches that bring the group into 2004 — which they’ll be doing live when they return to touring in June.
Spend My Time (Equity Music Group)
Mr. Black is back with his ninth studio album in a country music career that has covered a lot of ground since his 1989 debut, Killin’ Time. His latest features 12 brand-new numbers, solidifying the Texas-bred guitar picker’s longevity, and affirming that the respect he’s received in the business is much deserved. Several slow-tempo ballads of heartbreak complement the more driving stuff found on the boy-meets-girl “Everything I Need” and harmonica-infused “The Boogie Man.”
WYNTON MARSALIS QUARTET
The Magic Hour (Blue Note)
The second-oldest brother of the talented “First Family of Jazz” returns on the scene with this, his 45th album and debut release for the legendary Blue Note jazz label. Joining the trumpeter/bandleader/composer on Hour are members of his quartet, who provide the perfect backdrop to eight numbers that Marsalis says cover the “four basic attitudes of jazz”: Afro-Hispanic rhythm, blues, 4/4 swing, and ballad. World-renowned vocalists Dianne Reeves and Bobby McFerrin also lend their talents.
— JAMES E. MAYFIELD