BARBRA STREISAND, A Love Like Ours (Columbia CPTP 098980).
Barbra is in love and paying customers are invited to share in her wedded bliss with this highly anticipated new release of 12 tracks in romantic overdrive. This week on "The Today Show," Streisand said that she didn't want to sing the usual songs -- those full of romantic angst. Instead, she wanted to rejoice in her love and marriage to James Brolin, to whom she dedicates this CD. In true Streisand style, all the songs are lush and highly orchestrated, but they aren't much of a challenge, even though her voice is as good as it has been throughout her nearly four-decade career. The first track, "I've Dreamed of You" (earlier released as a single), is a delicately beautiful song and the most interesting on this CD. Her duet with country singer Vince Gill (Vince Gill?), "If You Ever Leave Me," is a light, breezy tune. But you have to wait for the last track, "The Music That Makes Me Dance," to hear Streisand in full, fabulous voice. This, her 55th CD, is no embarrassment, but for a woman this talented, in love or not, it's a tad musically unambitious. Rating: ***
WYNTON MARSALIS, Mr. Jelly Lord: Standard Time Vol. 6 (Columbia CK-69872).
The best, by far, of the six releases, up to now, of Marsalis' eight-CD "Swinging Into the 21st" orgy. Don't look now, but it may also be the best disc he has yet made. Every reservation, equivocation and qualm it is possible to have about the most invested and influential of current jazz musicians falls by the wayside when, as a passionate son of New Orleans, he gets together with some other sons of New Orleans, both younger (Wycliff Gordon, pianist Harry Connick Jr. on one tune) and older (clarinetist Michael White), to celebrate the music of the primal Big Easy composer and musician Jelly Roll Morton. In his unusually eloquent notes, Marsalis, via Stanley Crouch, says that "Jelly Roll Morton's music proves that all jazz is modern. . . . In New Orleans, we still play parades and funerals, we still have blues clubs, and we still have the same easy, poetic attitude toward the carnal." This disc is different in kind from every bit of good-time boaters-and-sleeve-garters New Orleans revivalism. These are powerhouse musicians ripping raucously, giddily and swaggeringly through the earliest of jazz's great composers and having the lusty time of their lives. One of the year's great jazz discs. Rating: **** 1/2
MOSCOW CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, Russian Soul and Mozart Adagios, conducted by Constantine Orbelian, with violinist Corey Cerovsek (both CDs), pianist Carol Rosenberger (Mozart) and oboist Allan Vogel (Mozart); Delos 3244 (Russian) and Delos 3243 (Mozart).
This timely pair of releases will give local listeners a good preview of the kind of artistry they can expect from the Moscow Chamber Orchestra and its American-born conductor, Constantine Orbelian, when they appear in concert at 8 p.m. next Friday in Houghton College's Wesley Chapel and at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 on the Mainstage at the Center for the Arts, University at Buffalo North Campus. The playing on these two CDs illustrates the tonal sheen and suavity that conductor Orbelian can extract from an orchestra. And the orchestra's adaptability is shown by its convincing move from the warm, rich, burnished sound that permeates the Russian recording to the lighter, more transparent textures in the Mozart. The 13 selections on "Russian Soul," both familiar and unfamiliar but listener-friendly, include six favorites by Tchaikovsky plus works by other Russian composers. Even though the playing is no less compelling, the collection of 10 slow movements from Mozart concertos requires a more laid-back listening attitude than the Russian works. Ratings: **** (Russian); **** 1/2 (Mozart)
1. Unpretty, TLC (La Face)
2. She's All I Ever Had, Ricky Martin (C2)
3. Smooth, Santana (featuring Rob Thomas). (Arista).
4. Mambo No. 5, Lou Bega (RCA)
5. Bailamos, Enrique Iglesias (Overbrook).
1. Let There Be Eve, Eve (Ruff Ryder).
2. Millennium, Backstreet Boys (Jive)
3. Christina Aguilera, Christina Aguilera (RCA)
4. Fly, Dixie Chicks (Monument)
5. Supernatural, Santana (Arista)