NEW RELEASES : Lena Horne Returns With Lovesome Sounds : *** 1/2; LENA HORNE, "We'll Be Together Again" ( Blue Note )

Horne again, born again--as a result of her triumphant concert last year celebrating Billy Strayhorn, which triggered this belated return to records. There are five Strayhorn works here, two by Duke Ellington, and the rest by a judicious assortment of songsmiths.

Her sound has changed little over the decades; the diction and the vibrato are utterly her own. Her backers are mainly a jazz-oriented group, including Houston Person on tenor sax and Toots Thielemans on harmonica. Two of the Strayhorn tunes--"Maybe" and "You're the One"--were written for Horne; others include the long-familiar "Something to Live For" and "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing."

The presence of Johnny Mathis in a vocal duet adds nothing. Best cuts are the swingers ("Havin' Myself a Time," "Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me") and the ballads, even "My Buddy," complete with violin obbligato (a rare example of schmaltz with class). Horne, who will turn 77 on June 30, remains a wonderful preeminence after 60 years behind the mike.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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