Reba McEntire - What If It's You (MCA): After more than two dozen albums, Reba McEntire is looking to get back to the basics. "What If It's You" moves away from the glitzy sound of McEntire's last several efforts. She's always had a powerful, finely tuned voice, and this album lets that voice come through. But McEntire is best when she tells stories through her songs, and this batch fails to provide a really good yarn like "Fancy" from 1990. The nearest we get is the emotional ballad "Close to Crazy." For true Reba fans, it's probably close enough.
- Laurel Shaper Walters
Danilo Perez - Panamonk (Impulse!) and David Sanchez - Street Scenes (Columbia): It was called Afro-Cuban when Dizzy Gillespie pioneered jazz with a Latin-American beat a half century ago - and made it part of the "United Nations" band of his last years. Danilo Perez played piano in that band, as he does on these new CDs. The category has become Afro-Hispanic or Afro-Caribbean, but the heritage goes back to Gillespie and the kindling excitement of jazz riffs cooking over boiling percussion. David Sanchez eloquently finds corners to meet on in his "street scenes" dramatizing the Latin lilt by occasional contrast with a swinging solid four.
- Roderick Nordell
Mozart - Piano Concertos, Masonic Funeral Music, Symphony in G Minor (ECM New Series): The highlight of this two-disc set is the "Masonic Funeral Music," an adagio movement composed in 1785. It packs an extraordinary amount of mournful dignity into less than six minutes of marvelously concentrated expression. The rest of the package is devoted to three piano concertos (Nos. 23, 27, and the ever-popular 21) played fluidly if unremarkably by the versatile Keith Jarrett. Rounding out the selection is the Great G Minor Symphony, which is still lustrous after all these years.
- David Sterritt