Billboard Bits serves up the best bite-sized nuggets of music news and gossip every afternoon.
Atlanta raper T.I ., who was released to a halfway house less than a month ago after serving seven months in prison on a gun charge, is back in the studio to lay down tracks for his next album. According to producer Jim Jonsin, who worked on the smash T.I. album "Paper Trail," the two have reunited for a follow-up that will be released this year. "He's back in the studio. I sent him some music via email," Jonsin told Rap-Up . "He can work during the week and not on the weekend, I believe. He's definitely working on an album for this year right now."
British rock icon Paul Weller , long known throughout the U.K. as "The Modfather" for his work as part of the trio The Jam , has reunited with long-estranged bassist Bruce Foxton in the studio and the two have laid down tracks together for Weller's forthcoming "Wake Up the Nation" album. "It came about because we had both lost loved ones last year," Weller told NME . "He lost his wife at the early part of the year, and I lost my dad, and it opened up a bit of a dialogue, and it seemed like a nice thing to do at the time. In fact it was a wonderful thing."
Arista Records/Legacy Recordings will celebrate the 25th anniversary of Whitney Houston 's career-establishing debut album, "Whitney Houston," with a special CD/DVD package. In addition to a remastered version of the original 1985 album -- which spent 14 non-consecutive weeks at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 -- the anniversary package features five bonus tracks including Houston's a cappella recording of "How Will I Know" and a live performance of "Greatest Love of All." The accompanying DVD boasts three rare TV performances (including "You Give Good Love" from the first annual "Soul Train Awards Show" in 1987), four videos showcasing the album's hit singles (including "You Give Good Love") and new interviews with Houston and mentor/producer Clive Davis.
Legendary R&B session drummer James Gadson - who recorded in the 1960s and 1970s with everyone from Bill Withers to Martha reeves to Quincy Jones -- recently joined Beck , Wilco , Feist  and Jamie Lidell  covering Skip Spence's "Oar" as part of Beck's Record Club series. The latest video, an incredibly funky version of "Books Of Moses"  with Lidell's looping vocals, was posted over the holiday weekend.
Singer/songwriter and "Real Houswives of Atlanta" cast member Kandi Burruss has signed with Asylum Records through her label, Kandi Koated Entertainment. Slated for release this spring, Burruss' yet-untitled first album will feature production by Jazze Phae and Drumma Boy, among others, as well as guest cameos by labelmate Gucci Mane , Rick Ross, Rasheeda and Tameka "Tiny" Cottle. Both Cottle and Burruss were members of former So So Def girl group Xscape  (1995's "Who Can I Run To?").
Mary J. Blige , Robin Thicke, John Legend, Melanie Fiona, Joe Sample and Cassandra Wilson are among performers lined up for this year's Jazz in the Gardens festival  (March 20-21 in Miami Gardens, Florida). DJing the festival this year will be songwriter/producer Bryan-Michael Cox.
(Contributions by Gail Mitchell, Monica Herrera and David J. Prince)
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