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Bheki Mseleku: Timelessness (Verve, CD/tape). The measure of this album's excellence is that Mseleku, a South African pianist who arrived on the London scene a few years ago and made an immediate impact, is not overshadowed by his guests, who include the saxophonists Joe Henderson and Pharoah Sanders, the singer Abbey Lincoln and the flautist Kent Jordan, supported by the fine rhythm team of bassist Michael Bowie and drummer 'Smitty' Smith. Those disappointed by last year's solo South Bank concert can relax: all Mseleku's promise is fulfilled in a collection which indulges itself in a variety of approaches - from hard bop to a township chant - but never loses focus, or the listener's attention, for a single moment. Richard Williams

Pavel Haas & Hans Krasa: String Quartets. Hawthorne Quartet (Decca, CD only). If the composers' names are unfamiliar, we know whom to blame: they were both Czech Jews, who died in Auschwitz on the same day. But the works here need no special pleading. Poignant and intense, they represent the generation after Janacek and bear comparison with his achievement - especially the Haas scores, which are real finds and deserve a regular place in 20th-century chamber repertory. Michael White

Britten: The Golden Vanity, etc. Andrei Gavrilov/Vienna Boys' Choir (DG, CD only). A collation of breezy pieces for voices and piano (including the Friday Afternoons cycle) that show Britten at his most arch or most endearing, depending on your point of view. The Vienna Boys could do with cleaner English diction, but Gavrilov (who comes to this repertory through his mentor Sviatoslav Richter) plays with a crisp transparency that is entirely idiomatic and, sometimes, genuine fun. MW




Terry Evans: That's the Way Love Turned out for Me (track on Blues for Thought, Point Blank, CD/tape). Ry Cooder turns his former backing singer loose on a song from his Slide Area album, and creates a perfect southern-soul record. RW

Kristin Hersh: Hips & Makers (4AD, CD/LP/tape). A haunting, stately solo debut. See Booking, page 75. Ben Thompson

Justin Warfield: My Field Trip to Planet 9 (Qwest/Reprise, CD/LP/tape). A 19-year-old LA hippie rapper: both charming and bewildering. Andy Beckett

Pavement: Crooked Rain Crooked Rain (Big Cat, CD/ LP/tape). American art-rock at its weirdest and most wonderful. BT

Elvis Costello: This is Hell (track on Brutal Youth, Warner, CD/LP/tape, out 7 Mar). People say he's back on form, and here is evidence. A stream of jokes, an undercurrent of sadness, and a tune the Beatles could have written. Tim de Lisle