Picks and Pans Review: Meditations

updated 01/23/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/23/1995 AT 01:00 AM EST

Bheki Mseleku

Perhaps the most telling attribute of South African-born Bheki Mseleku, a pianist-saxophonist-vocalist-composer, is that he doesn't read music. This, in the age of the well-studied but pedestrian jazz musician, is something to smile about. His third release, Meditations, is not a jazz record per se but an eclectic journey through musical idioms: jazz, indigenous African, experimental. His piano playing alludes to the great McCoy Tyner, and his haunting tenor saxophone—played simultaneously with the piano—aspires to an Eastern aesthetic. "Meera-Ma" (Divine Mother) sounds like a celestial daydream, and on "Meditation Suite," Mseleku's regal piano is interspersed with his vocal incantations—African scatting, if you will—and despite its 32-minute length, it never loses its resonance. It's like a good three-hour movie. (Verve)

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