By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
By Harley Oliver Brown
Sonny goes to Norway, hooking up with Anders Aarum's piano trio and a string quartet conducted by veteran flautist Vidar Johansen. Ordinary in themselves, the string arrangements set Simmons so at ease that he plays with unforeseen grace and clarity. A MINUS
This starts out as the music of Puerto Rico's countryside, a thick stew of Arabic and African roots, its seasoning crossed with elements from Cuba and points south. But Zenón isn't tempted by folk instruments or traditional melodies. He maps the extraordinarily complex rhythms onto standard jazz piano-bass-drums, then improvises fast, jaunty alto sax lines in lieu of the usual vocalist. A MINUS
Dud of the Month
Concord's latest youth pitch at the adult-contemporary market looks like the Mod Squad scrubbed up for the neocon millennium: blonde ingenue Erin Boheme, black trumpeter Christian Scott, and this slightly scruffy white pianist. All three have talent, of courseEigsti is a 21-year-old prodigy on his third album, clearly a hot property. But they wouldn't have gotten all that hair and skin budget, not to mention all that advertising, if they looked as geeky as Steve Lehman. The music is groomed, too: Eigsti gets two top bass-drums tandems and plenty of coverColtrane, Björk, Porter, Mussorgsky, the Soprano theme songfor his scrawny originals. B MINUS
The Complete ESP-Disk' Recordings
Kicking off a great career, give or take 20 years in hell.
Shades of Jade
If Eliane Elias's label insists she play the pop star, she'll release her serious work under hubby's name.
A constructive traditionalist, working from Ellington through Sun Ra, willing to get his trombone dirty.
Ben Goldberg Quintet
The Door, the Hat, the Chair, the Fact
Live at Tampere Jazz Happening
Swedish freebop quartet, two horns performing aerial acrobatics, and the usual great drummerin this case, Kjell Nordeson.
It's a Good Thing
Jason Kao Hwang
A Chinese tinge to the violin, as Francis Wong's soprano sax looks east from Coltrane to come full circle.
Folk instruments, trad tunes, toned-down Barbieri-ish sax, beats by Satoshi Takeishi.
Time WasTime Is
Another memoir of bebop's Spanishtingethe congalero's last. Unexpected Plays the Blues in Need Fresh Sound New Talent Pianist Sergi Sirvent's trio twists Monk for old and new needs.
Three Days of Rain
A soundtrack for Chekhov in Cleveland, with Joe Lovano to keep you snug and warm.
Standard curriculum, but the alto saxophonist aces his orals.
String Trio of New York with Oliver Lake
They spar mostly, but find common ground on "Texas Koto Blues."
A fusion guitarist remembers his own personal Gil Evans.
The mild man of Europe's avant-garde in a drumless all-star quartet.
Not only does this $6.79 list CD boast the cheapest packaging I've ever seen, there's nothing bogus in the duets either.
JAMES CARTER/CYRUS CHESTNUT/ALI JACKSON/REGINALD VEAL
JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER'S AFRO-LATIN JAZZ ORCHESTRA