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SOUND CHECK.

FRANK SINATRA: ``Sinatra: Vegas'' (Rhino/Reprise) - Four stars

Long after he sang his last set in Sin City, Sinatra's music remains the swinging sound that millions associate with Las Vegas. This four-CD, one-DVD box presents five previously unreleased full-length concerts from 1961, 1966, 1978, 1982 and 1987. Sinatra's performances grow a tad more rote and crowd-pleasing as the years progress -- how could they not? -- but each disc showcases the Chairman of the Board in his big, brassy glory. The gem is the 1966 set with Count Basie, featuring different performances from those released on the landmark ``Sinatra at the Sands'' album. This shadow album finds Sinatra looser, edgier, even more in the moment. It's one of the great shows in the history of song.

-- Glenn Whipp

CIARA: ``The Evolution'' (LaFace/Zomba) - Three stars

She says she's not just the Princess of Crunk anymore, that she's evolved. But it's going to take more than slapping violins onto hip hop, recruiting a host of A-list talent - ranging from 50 Cent to Pharrell Williams - or dispersing earnest (albeit self-important) interludes about music, dance and fashion to prove she's not parading under a misnomer of a title. Having in a short time journeyed from singer to singer-songwriter and producer, 21-year-old Ciara now takes the helm of this follow-up to 2004's triple-platinum ``Goodies.'' Highlights include the crunk-tastic ``That's Right'' (featuring Lil Jon's instantly recognizable growl), the sultry club track ``I Proceed'' and the soul-drenched ``So Hard.'' Of the 18 tracks, the bass-heavy ``Get Up'' (featuring rapper Chamillionaire) is the pick of the album by an artist who, evolved or not, has made at least one thing clear: Change can be good.

-- Sandra Barrera

JULIE KELLY: ``Everything I Love'' (Chase) - Four stars

While relatively unknown, Kelly is one of the area's best jazz singers, with a remarkable tone in the alto range, rock-solid intonation, knowing interpretation and a nice way with original lyrics. Besides Brazilian classics -- sung partially in Portuguese -- and standards (``I'm Glad There Is You''), Kelly pays homage to Joni Mitchell with extraordinarily pure renditions of ``Both Sides Now'' and ``Woodstock.'' Kelly's heart and voice are in the right place. She performs Jan. 5 at Charlie O's.

-- Steven Rosenberg

RHONDA VINCENT: ``Beautiful Star: A Christmas Collection'' (Rounder) - Three and one half stars

The multi-award-winning bluegrass vocalist sings pristine yet distinctive renditions of religious and popular carols, as well as her own catchy new composition ``Christmas Time at Home.'' The musical approaches vary more than you'd expect, from breakdowns, of course, to hillbilly jazz and a wittily tone-deaf run through ``The Twelve Days of Christmas.''

-- Bob Strauss

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 8, 2006
Words:443
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