-- "Modern Art," the new album by the Rippingtons featuring Russ Freeman, arrives March 10 from Peak Records. Band founder Freeman is joined by a new lineup that includes bassist Rico Belled, saxophonist Jeff Kashiwa (whose original stint with the band was from 1990-99), drummer Dave Karasony and keyboardist Bill Heller. The set includes lead single "Paris Groove" and closing song "Love Story" with special guest, trumpeter Rick Braun.

-- Blue Note/EMI compiles singer Cassandra Wilson's best covers of pop/rock hits on "Closer to You: The Pop Side" (April 7). The 11-track CD and digital collection spans Wilson's seven Blue Note albums, including renditions of songs originally recorded by U2 ("Love is Blindness"), Bob Dylan ("Lay Lady Lay"), the Band ("The Weight") and the Monkees ("Last Train to Clarksville").

-- Grammy-winning husband and wife Herb Alpert and Lani Hall are the 2009 recipients of the 18th ELLA Award by the Society of Singers (SOS). The award will be presented May 18 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Alpert, trumpeter and frontman of the pioneering band Tijuana Brass, co-founded A&M Records with Jerry Moss in the early '60s. Hall is a former lead singer with Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 and a solo artist whose releases include "Sun Down Lady." Previous ELLA recipients include Andy Williams, Gladys Knight and Celine Dion.

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