RONIT ROLLAND Hutim (Strings) (Hatav Hashmini) Alternative singer-songwriter Ronit Rolland has released her third album entitled Hutim (Strings). Staying true to her music, Rolland doesn't compromise her compositions to suit the tastes of the mighty Galgalatz radio play list. And while mainstream music listeners may not hear her new material, it is truly their loss. Rolland provides tight vocal harmonies with contemporary music arrangements on this new CD. The first track, "Rak Benatayim," sets up the album for what it is: animated guitar playing with tantalizing pop-rock singing. On the title track, "Hutim," Rolland successfully adds electro elements to the more traditional folk arrangements. She then jazzes things up a bit on "Karov" with untroubled lyrics and terrific horn instrumentation. And then there's "Basof Motzim Ahava," an optimistic and touching acoustic guitar love ballad. In fact, there's not a bad track among the 11 songs on the album. This 38-year-old guitar-wielding folk rock singer, who has been on the music scene for some three decades, wrote lyrics and composed music for 10 of the tracks. She also played half a dozen instruments on the album, in addition to her singing duties. Backup musicians include Keren Teperberg (percussion), Tamar Eisenman (guitars) and Boaz Wolf (programmer) among others. Local music fans in search of a quality album should look no further. Rolland proves that age doesn't matter and that she can rock as well as (if not better than) her younger counterparts who tend to dominate the limited spotlight. IRIS & OFER PORTUGALY Sipur Behemshechim (Endless Story) (Portugaly Productions) Iris and Ofer Portugaly, who make up one of the country's most prominent jazz ensembles, have released a new CD that combines original vocal material with Israeli and jazz classics. Its 12 tracks mix East and West rhythms while staying within the intimate acoustic jazz genre. The musical arrangements are sound throughout, with the Portugalys offering a pleasing rendition of Matti Caspi's "Ma'arava Mikan" ("West of Here") as well as an innovative version of "Ahavat Hayai" ("Love of My Life"), made famous by Mizrahi singer Haim Moshe. Other musicians who appear on this album include Eli Degibri (saxophone), Avi Lebovich (trombone), Oded Goldshmidt (contrabass) and Ilan Salem (flute). The most spine-tingling track is "Ha'ish Sh'belibech" ("The Man in Your Heart"), which is an optimistic, yet heartbreaking song dedicated to bereaved wives Sarit Gomez and Sivan Mashiach. Gomez and Mashiach were pregnant with their first children when their husbands were killed during the Second Lebanon War. The Portugalys wrap up on a hopeful note, with a fresh-sounding gospel rendition of the classic "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Jazz fans will find this ethnic-jazz album worth adding to their music collections.