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SOUND CHECK.

Red Hot Chili Peppers/``Californication'' (Warner Bros.)

The Chili Peppers are supposed to be one of the pillars of the alternative genre, which only goes to prove how musically bankrupt the entire format is these days. This mediocre thrash outfit, which long ago stumbled on a couple of Meters albums and thinks it knows something about syncopation, here attempts a few rewrites of ``Under the Bridge,'' the yawn-inducing band's painfully overrated 1992 hit, along with heaping portions of the usual cliche-ridden punk-funk.

The much-heralded return of guitarist John Frusciante amounts to little, since the guy was nothing special to begin with, although he's on the same musical bottom rung as the rest of these stale Peppers. ``Californication,'' the band's first album in four years, simply treads water. One and one half stars

- Fred Shuster

Caetano Veloso/``Livro'' (Nonesuch)

The veteran leader of Brazil's tropicalismo movement offers a thoughtful new album replete with references to his influences, his colleagues and his loves. ``Manhata'' is the sweetest ode to Manhattan you can imagine - or that town will ever deserve; ``Doideca'' evokes the wacky Tom Ze in equally wacky rhythmic invention. ``Pra Ninguem'' (``For No One'') invokes a pantheon of fellow Brazilian singers, then says ``Better than this there's only silence/and better than silence only Joao,'' presumably fellow musical pioneer Joao Gilberto.

Veloso also explores history with an epic song of the slave ships and a piece about Alexander the Great. Not simple music but consistently rewarding. Veloso appears July 3 and 4 at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre. Three stars

- David Bloom

Carlinhos Brown/``Omelete Man'' (MetroBlue)

The Brazilian Brown shows he's a man of many talents on this, his second album, which is produced by fellow countryman Marisa Monte. The 15 songs hit every genre - there are pulsating dance tracks, lush romantic ballads and joyous Latin-pop. The resulting hodgepodge should please those drawn to musical eclecticism, not to mention lively percussion-fueled music. This is a man who puts his musical eggs in many baskets, and his audience is the better for it. Three stars

- Glenn Whipp

Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn Terfel/``In Paradisum: Requiem'' (Deutsche Grammophon)

When omnipresent Italian mezzo-soprano Bartoli and Welsh bass-baritone Terfel cut their first duo disc, ``Cecilia and Bryn,'' a few cynics muttered that the recording was a way to make fast bucks by regaling the masses with pretty snatches of Mozart and Rossini. Nonsense. But in any case, this beautifully woebegone recording, in subtle shades of gray, should silence such chatter. Though certainly Gabriel Faure's signature work, the ``gentle'' Requiem of 1887, with its gloomy D-minor tonalities, is a bleak bit of business, redeemed only sporadically by major-key glimmers.

Bartoli and Terfel both are in top form with their reverent solos, as conductor Myung-Whun Chung skillfully guides the Coro e Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia through the Gregorian gloom. Maurice Durufle's more eruptive version is particularly moving in the plainchant melodies of the ``Agnus Dei,'' gliding with graceful, impressionistic harmonies toward the ultimate negation. Three stars

- Reed Johnson

10-cents/``Buggin' Out!'' (HiHo Records)

This Silver Lake quartet - produced by the Dust Brothers for their own label - makes happy, dippy pop and hip-hop - hippy hop for want of a better term. 10-cents is hard to dislike, but it doesn't mean you want to take 'em home to Mom, either. Much of this disc is very sweet-natured, all boops and tinkles and gentle harmonies. The only song with a hint of menace, unsurprisingly, is ``Die on the Ranch,'' which charges up their good time with a hint of something darker.

Think of this album as beach blanket music for the end of the millennium, and Frankie and Annette have piercings and tats. Two and one half stars

- D.B.

Dave Weckl Band/``Synergy'' (Stretch/Concord)

After seven years with Chick Corea's electric and acoustic combos, drummer Weckl has come into his own as a solo artist with a fresh take on jazz-fusion. For his fifth solo effort, energetic playing from imaginative groove-masters like guitarist Buzz Feiten and bassist Tommy Kennedy fuel the lively feel of such standouts as ``Panda's Dream'' and ``High Life.'' Incidentally, the quintet, also featuring tenor saxophonist Brandon Fields, appears Tuesday through June 27 at Hollywood's Catalina Bar & Grill.

- F.S.

Gregg Field/``The Art of Swing'' (DCC)

Studio City's Field has played with all the greats - Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and Mel Torme. He was Sinatra's last drummer (from 1991-96) and produced wife Monica Mancini's well-regarded debut album. Here on his first solo outing, Field romps through 11 big-band standards and originals that demonstrate that he has put all his experience to good use. Working from arrangements by the talented Sammy Nestico, Field capably propels his band of local session aces from behind the drum kit, demonstrating a knack for the very quality that is this album's title.

Crisp horn charts, great material, talented soloists - it adds up to an album that would help you work some magic on the dance floor. Three stars

- G.W.

Osei Tutu/``Awakening'' (Tinder)

Osei's Ghanaian high life is more closely related to Western instrumentation, rhythms and song structures than most sub-Saharan musical subgenres but still provides a delightful, exotic stew of bouncing rhythms and skittering guitar. Much of the album is quite upbeat, despite memorials to Osei's dead father, to Afro-pop pioneer Fela Kuti and several other recently deceased friends. Highlights include a paean to the loss of his father, ``Esua,'' a sad-sweet apology to a lover in ``Waye Basa,'' and Kuti's ``Gentleman.'' Three stars

- D.B.

Alioune Kasse/``Exsina'' (Tinder)

A young, second-generation Senegalese musician strongly influenced by countryman Youssou N'Dour (who played with his pianist-father in Starband decades ago), Kasse has a lovely voice and sweet songs, though he works virtually the same upper vocal register that N'Dour has abandoned in recent years. A solid but not scintillating slice of Senegal. Two and one half stars.

- D.B.

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(2--9) no caption (CD covers)
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Title Annotation:L.A. LIFE
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Sound Recording Review
Date:Jun 18, 1999
Words:1004
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