Philip Glass -- Kronos Quartet Performs Philip Glass (Nonesuch): Listeners who know Philip Glass's more imposing works, such as ''Satyagraha'' and the towering ''Einstein on the Beach,'' may be surprised at the assurance he brings to chamber compositions like the four string quartets on this delightful disc. Three were originally written for stage productions or movies, including the film ''Mishima,'' on which the Kronos Quartet collaborated. The most recent, dating from 1991, is a stand-alone piece of impressive subtlety and variety, proving that Glass's famous ''minimalist'' aesthetic still has many rich veins to be explored. The performances are exemplary, combining intimacy and energy with the usual Kronos panache.
James Carter -- The Real Quietstorm (Atlantic Records): Carter is perfecting the art of smoky sax so early in his life ( he is 26) that there is no telling where he'll go. The only drawback to this immensely listenable disc is the frequent reliance on fairly standard riffs. Even so, you can hear the determination to strike off in new directions, even on the old standards, like '''Round Midnight.'' But real technique in sax, whether alto, soprano, or tenor -- all of which Carter plays wonderfully -- means that you can hold on to a song without worshipful accompaniment. The last track, Bill Doggett's ''Eventide,'' is just Carter and his good bassist, Jaribu Shahid, in moody tandem, describing sweet loneliness.
Columbia Records Radio Hour, Vol. 1 (Columbia): The Columbia Records Hour, now three years old, is a weekly series of live, Sunday morning concert broadcasts, showcasing that label's artists in a relaxed, often acoustic setting. This sampler presents several underappreciated singer-songwriters: Bruce Cockburn, James McMurtry, Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Darden Smith, and Rosanne Cash.