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Check It Out

Check It Out!: April 26, 2013

Tom Jones — Spirit In the Room  (Rounder)

At a time when most of his peers are content to work the oldies circuit, 72-year-old Tom Jones continues to reinvent himself. In his latest incarnation, the knighted Welshman has gone the latter-day Johnny Cash with respected Americana producer Ethan Johns playing the role of Rick Rubin. Jones started down this particular root music path with 2010’s most excellent Praise & Blame, a collection of mostly gospel and spiritual songs with the odd Dylan or Billy Joe Shaver cover thrown in for good measure. This collection finds Jones upping the ante considerably. Kicking off with a ruminating reading of Leonard Cohen’s “Tower of Song” and the opening line of “Well my friends are gone and my hair is grey/I ache in the places when I used to play,” and before you know, the iconoclastic pop star is hip deep in gravitas.

Johns is brilliant in his pairing of Jones’ rich vocal rumble with material that includes Richard Thompson’s poignant “Dimming of the Day,” the existential blues of Blind Willie Johnson’s ominous “Soul of a Man” and a reading of Mickey Newbury’s “Just Dropped In,” that comes off like an off-kilter samba. Elsewhere, Jones eases into a wistful walk through Paul McCartney’s yearning “(I Want to) Come Home” while originals, such as the snappy blues shuffle “Traveling Shoes” and a cover of Tom Waits’ Middle Eastern-flavored “Bad as Me” is as bizarre as the original. Best of all is Joe Henry’s “All Blues Hail Mary,” where Tom Jones comes off sounding like some southern gothic harbinger of doom over hypnotically laconic timekeeping.

April 27

Port Washington

John Hammond and David Lindley at Landmark on Main Street, 223 Main St. 8 p.m. $50, $45, $40.


In the realm of eclectic music making, it would seem that David Lindley would have the market cornered on this double bill. Besides being a founding member of the ’60s psychedelic folk group Kaleidoscope, Lindley is renowned for his ability to play a myriad of stringed instruments ranging from the conventional (guitar, banjo) to the exotic (bouzouki, zither). And while John Hammond is best known for keeping alive the legacies of legends like Jimmy Reed, Son House and John Lee Hooker, he’s occasionally shown his own ability to color outside the lines. Hammond has not only managed to transcend all the bar-band twaddle currently being churned out by most contemporary blues players, but found time to spit out an album full of Tom Waits covers (2001’s Wicked Grin) and deigned to cover the likes of The Rolling Stones and Billie Holiday.

April 27


Joshua Bell at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, 720 Northern Blvd., 8 p.m. $85, $60, $40. 516-299-3100

In an era where classical music artists practically leap at the notion of pop crossover success, Joshua Bell continues to be a standard bearer for the aforementioned genre. Despite the fact that he’s worked on the occasional non-classical music projects ranging from numerous soundtracks to 2009’s At Home with Friends (Sting, Regina Spektor, Chris Botti), Bell has remained true to his roots. This show at the Tilles Center will be no different as pianist Sam Haywood will accompany the Indiana native in performing a program featuring works by Schubert, Strauss and Prokofiev.

May 1


Alabama at NYCB Theatre @ Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., 8 p.m. $59.50, $49.50. 877-598-8497

Arguably the most successful country music band in history thanks to 43 number one songs and 73 million records in sales, Alabama is celebrating four decades together even the group went so far as to undertake a farewell tour that ran through most of 2002 and 2003. The band’s popularity never quite waned with current Music Row darling recruiting them to play on his song “Old Alabama” back in 2001. This Back to the Bowery tour is a nod to the South Carolina club of the same name that the band started out playing at back in 1973.