Andrew Essex
December 26, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

It may not be the worst album of the year, but it’s probably the weirdest. Last spring, when Dr. Jack Kevorkian released his debut CD, A Very Still Life: The Kevorkian Suite (Lucid Subjazz), a mostly self-penned collection of anesthetic jazz instrumentals performed with a small, cocktail-flavored combo, it was clear that the man also known as Doctor Death had taken to killing people softly — with his songs.

”People who have heard the record like it very much,” Kevorkian says. ”It’s nice, pleasant music — I call it New Age jazz.” It turns out that the peripatetic euthanasian is a man of many shingles: His recent gallery show — 13 oil paintings depicting corpses and severed heads — opened last spring to alarmed reviews in suburban Detroit. Nevertheless, few people knew that Kevorkian, 69, played the flute. ”I’m really self-taught,” he says. ”I’ve been playing off and on for a couple of decades. I just finished a flute-harpsichord sonata that I’m kind of pleased with.”

While A Very Still Life is rife with some good-natured, Kenny G-style noodling, Kevorkian had little luck parlaying his infamy into chart action — though, according to a Lucid spokesperson, out of the 5,000 units shipped, at least 1,400 discs have been sold. Still, Kevorkian remains philosophical about his sideline. ”All I would hope is that people enjoy it,” he says. ”I wasn’t going to have a career change, even if it were a hit.”

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