BEE GEES ``E.S.P.'' (Warner Bros. 925541-1) - Wait a minute before you dismiss the Bee Gees as disco has-beens. This album, their first in over six years and their 25th to date, reveals an updated sound, songs with catchy hooks and strong production, albeit a bit noisy and overbearing at times. JANE IRA BLOOM ``Modern Drama'' (Columbia FC 40755) - Soprano saxophonist Bloom works with movement and live electronics in performance. On record, she incorporates electronics at strategic moments to heighten certain notes or passages. Here she's accompanied by pianist Fred Hersch, among others, on a collection of her own tunes. As well as being a masterly improviser, she gets the best tone I've ever heard out of a soprano sax.
STEVE KUHN ``Life's Magic'' (Black Hawk BHK 522-1 D) - Jazz pianist Kuhn has gone through a number of incarnations in his career, and this latest shows his skill as an improviser in the Bill Evans vein. Kuhn weaves melodies as thematic material, developing a musical portrait from a seedling idea. He does this on each of the tunes here (mostly Kuhn originals), with bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster supporting and feeding him every step of the way.
STEVE GOODMAN ``Unfinished Business'' (Red Pajama Records RPJ 005) - The late Steve Goodman was a contemporary folk singer and guitarist of infectious charm. Goodman wrote most of the songs on this collection of previously unreleased material. Best of all are the humorous ditty ``Millie Make Some Chili,'' Goodman's pleasing James Taylor-ish voice, and the great musical backup, especially guitarist Jeff (Skunk) Baxter.
LEVERT ``The Big Throwdown'' (Atlantic 81773-1) - This is Levert's second album, and the youthful black trio is at the top of the charts with ``Casanova.'' Their singing is mellifluous and the rhythms danceable. The backgrounds are pleasantly sparse, with a minimum of production, which lets the vocal harmonies shine through.
MR. MISTER ``Go On...'' (RCA 6276-1-R) - L.A. techno-pop band changes its image with this latest release. The songs have substance, both lyrically and musically, and deal with subjects ranging from one man's uncertainty about his relationship to God to a plea for aid for children in war-torn countries. Mr. Mister has matured into the potential they showed on their previous albums.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN ``Tunnel of Love'' (Columbia CK 40999) - It's low-key romance for the Boss this time, in this collection of mostly sad little love songs. Too much of the time he sounds strained, and some of the backgrounds are thin, but there's a nice country feel to a lot of the material. Best up: the gently swaying title tune, and the pretty ballad ``One Step Up.''