"AS BAD AS I WANNA B"
MC Lyte/East/West Records
With the release of her fifth album, premier female rapper MC Lyte has proven once again that she can out strong. Her latest compilation, "Bad As I Wanna B," (no, she didn't collaborate with Dennis Rodman - who has a book of the same name) delivers her straight and to-the-point flavor that keeps fans coming back.
Lyte, who's had success with such hits as "Ruff Neck," the first gold single delivered by a female rapper, already has received her second gold single, "Keep On, Keepin On" which appears on this CD as well as the "Sunset Park" soundtrack.
In her cut "Everyday," Lyte tells professes how she wants her man to act and how she needs things done her way. This song could become an anthem for women trying to domesticate their men.
Lyte is always a breath of fresh air. She doesn't try to put up fronts; she comes across as someone who is just being herself in her songs. For those who are already fans, go ahead and add this one to your collection. And for those who aren't, start collecting.
-- Tanya Bell
"NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI"/R.E.M.
R.E.M. is on an amazing streak. "New Adventures in Hi-Fi" is a knock-you-down-brilliant, one-listen record, a five-star classic. Relistening will bring you deeper inside, for sure, but it takes just a taste to let you know there's good, good music here.
The band managed to combine an album-on-the-fly feel with some of its very best songwriting. And informal though it may be, it's a lifetime away from the noisy, often dissonant rock that filled the loud, great but sometimes too-jarring "Monster."
"New Adventures" is a more thoughtful, literate journey that leaves you with a warm, hopeful feeling; indeed, the closing "Electrolite" is among R.E.M.'s prettiest songs ever.
Not to say the album isn't loud. "Leave" is a harrowing guitar workout, an epic, Zeppelinesque killer, and "Departure" howls like it did when the band played it live last year.
The secret is that it isn't just guitarist Peter Buck coming up with melodies for Stipe to sing over. All four write songs, and "New Adventures" showcases the band's greatest strengths.
-- Mark Brown
Orange County Register
"FREEDOM IN THE GROOVE"
On the heels of his lavish, two-disc live set, the immensely popular tenor/soprano saxophonist and composer Josh Redman is back with a straight, original studio effort. The theme here could well be "no fear," as Redman ventures at times into hip-hop and other kinds of mid-'90s territory.
In other words, Redman, being the consummate jazz guy, isn't anywhere near ready to be pigeonholed, and loyal fans and adventure-seekers will find plenty to like here on the 10 cuts.
Redman's working group backs him up, and it's a solid group to be sure -- pianist Peter Martin, guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Christopher Thomas, drummer Brian Blade. Martin, in particular, is a standout, two-fisted player whose solos often tend to nearly steal the show.
The opening cut, the catchy "Hide and Seek," jumps in with a mild rock/hip-hop beat, with Redman offering plenty of the squeaks and other turns that have made him such a crowd favorite. "One Shining Soul" begins in a mellow, almost easy-listening mold, with Redman blowing a lilting soprano and trading pretty licks with Bernstein.
Redman is part of the new breed of players who have managed the noble feat of pleasing purists while attracting a new audience to jazz. And with each release, Redman shows a bit more of what's inside him. And that's a mighty good thing.
-- Steve Eddy
Orange County Register