ORNETTE COLEMAN AND PRIME TIME ``Virgin Beauty'' (Portrait/CBS RK 44301) - The one-of-a-kind jazz saxophonist puts his unmistakable stamp on 11 new compositions here. Coleman has added a tabla player to his electric band, and the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia plays guitar on three tunes. There's some African influence on this one, and even a ``cowboy'' tune (``Happy Hour''). GIL EVANS AND HELEN MERRILL ``Collaboration'' (Emarcy/Polygram 834 205-2) - This was Evans's last recording and a departure from his jazz/rock band of the last decade. In fact, the album is a remake (except for ``Summertime'') of one he recorded 30 years ago with vocalist Merrill. Merrill, whose voice has deepened and matured, is like another instrument - a complement to Evans's masterly arrangements - but adds little spark.Skip to next paragraph
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YOSUKE YAMASHITA ``Sentimental'' (Kitty/Polydor H33K20018) - Yamashita is a heavy-handed, energetic pianist who mixes up old standards and even classical pieces with avant-garde flights of fancy, ranging from the excitingly original to the self-consciously cute. Yamashita has more than 20 albums in Japan; this is his first US release.
``Truth'' (Portrait/CBS OR 44193) - This popular pop/jazz fusion instrumental group has 14 albums in its native Japan, but this is its first US release. The music, played on synthesizers, lyricon (a synthesized wind instrument), and conventional bass, sax, drums, and guitar, is sometimes corny, but appealing, with accessible melodies and a broad, warm sound. The Oriental influence, although faint, makes its presence felt.
VARIOUS ARTISTS ``Heartbeat Soukous'' (Virgin 90883-1) - Soukous is the guitar music of Zaire - a melodious, rhythmic mixture of African folk music, jazz, and electric pop. This album is an anthology of some of the best artists and groups of the genre. Especially engaging is ``Belle Amie,'' a light, breezy, toe-tapping vocal/instrumental by Kanda Bongo Man.
STUMP ``A Fierce Pancake'' (Ensign/Chrysalis BFV41641) - Stump is a totally quirky, off-the-wall, comical British band that offers an engagingly unmusical mishmash of weird, surrealistic vocals, bizarre sounds, and ``film noir'' lyrics. They sing (talk, mumble, shout) about fat tourists, Charlton Heston movies, vicious hunters, and world hunger. Are they trying too hard to be strange? Maybe, but at least they don't take themselves too seriously.
ANDY SUMMERS ``Mysterious Barricades'' (Private Music 2039-1-P) - On his first solo instrumental release, Summers makes no bones about his bent for new-age music. Painstakingly serene vignettes and little splashes of color over captivating, understated vamps dominate the album. Could this be Andy Summers, former guitarist for the Police? The music is pretty and meditative, but essentially bland.