"TOUCH OF THE RARE" is vocalist Lisa Rich's second album and her first recorded collaboration with keyboardist Clare Fischer and his quartet. It is by far a more adventuresome and ambitious effort. Several of the songs are both rhythmically and harmonically challenging, and Rich, though not always a terribly expressive vocalist, handles them with cool and winning assurance.

With her attractive, somewhat husky voice, and her harmonic and rhythmic finesse, Rich is particularly well suited to the colorful material she's gathered here. Besides the standard "Love for Sale," which has long been part of her concert performances, the album boasts a number of lesser-known tunes such as the boppish delight, "Better Than Anything," which will enhance Rich's reputation as a singer who knows a good song when she hears one.

Fischer's contributions as an arranger and a composer (he had a hand in writing six of the 11 tunes here) qualify him for special mention. His arrangements are alternately breezy and sensual on several Latin-flavored pieces, where he plays the electric keyboards against the backdrop of rustling percussion. By contrast, his piano accompaniment is deliciously discreet on what has to rank as one of the album's genuine highlights: Rich's lovely and tender reading of the Broadway show ballad "Some Other Time."

LISA RICH -- "Touch of the Rare" (Trend/Discovery TR541); appearing Sundays through February at Cates Restaurant.