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.''