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Noteworthy

September 2, 2005



Jazz

Tim Ries and guests - The Rolling Stones Project (Concord): - Saxophonist Ries possesses serious jazz chops, but he is best known for his gig as lead sax player on the Rolling Stones megatours. During breaks in touring and other stolen hours, he managed to assemble some of the world's great jazz and fusion artists - and a few of the Stones themselves - to create these fresh and imaginative interpretations of familiar Stones classics. Most of it works beautifully, like Norah Jones' regal take on "Wild Horses" and the delicate interplay between Ries's tenor and Bill Frisell's shimmering guitar on "Ruby Tuesday." Other standouts are a Brazilian-style "Street Fighting Man," featuring a full horn section, and a stirring, angular "Gimme Shelter." - John Kehe

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Light classical

Cook, Dixon & Young: Volume One (RCA Victor): - Victor Trent Cook, Rodrick Dixon, and Thomas Young are three of the smoothest showoffs you'll ever hear - and want to hear again and again. It takes some real élan to appear on the stage as yet another "three tenors," but this African-American trio has the pipes to pull it off in style. They submit their credentials with snippets from Verdi and Handel operas, honor their roots with such spirituals as "Poor Wayfaring Stranger," and flaunt their pop chops with "Luck Be a Lady." Their take on "Birdland" is jazzy and joyous, and "I Need You to Survive" wraps up the recording with a fervent inspirational message. This something-for-everyone approach doesn't always work, but Cook, Dixon & Young honor each of the genres with their passion and polish. - Gregory M. Lamb

Hip-hop/pop

Kanye West - Late Registration (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam): Kanye West's career as a rap artist is scarcely two years old, yet his maturity as a lyricist finds him eschewing materialism and misogyny, two staples of hip-hop. Though flooded with classic samples and explicit lyrics, the Chicago super producer's incessant creativity and constructive rhymes shine through on "Late Registration," his sophomore album. The guest list includes comedian Bernie Mac on album opener "Wake Up Mr. West"; "Diamonds are Forever" features Jay-Z; and "Gold Digger" includes a turn by Jamie Foxx. Also worthy of mention are the thought-provoking "Roses," "Bring Me Down," and "Hey Mama," an inspirational tribute to West's mother. She can be proud of her son: He's on the cover of this week's Time magazine. - Sulaiman Folarin

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