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CLASSICAL Bob James: ``Rameau.'' (CBS Masterworks Series 7464 12372-1) -- In this adventurous album, popular jazz keyboardist Bob James displays amazing dexterity -- both in his nimble-fingered flurries and in his smooth transition from jazz to baroque music. He seems to revel in the dazzling scores of John Philippe Rameau's piano concertos -- and for good reason, since their airy exuberance highlights his keyboard brilliance even more than his own jazz compositions. The musical magic is matched by some technical wizardry that , oddly enough, gives the album a personal touch: sophisticated overdubbing enables James to play the entire score himself; a versatile synthesizer lets him explore an entire orchestra of sound; and digital recording enriches the musical texture. The technology heightens James's interpretive range and power, making this album a gem -- a marvelous mixture of 18th-century music, 20th-century technology, and a musician that can bridge the gap with timeless virtuosity. -- Brook Larmer JAZZ/POP/ROCK Dire Straits: ``Brothers in Arms.'' (Warner Bros. 25264-1) -- Some of the most melodious rock today is made by a group whose lead vocalist has the tonal elegance of a taxi dispatcher. The singer is Mark Knopfler, the genius behind Dire Straits and the author of its intelligent, often bitterly humorous music. Knopfler's gruff vocals highlight, through contrast, the group's most richly expressive material. And they complement Dire Straits's harder rock. ``Brothers in Arms'' is a satisfying new album from this group. While

the lyrics are a bit more easily understood than those from past LPs, the music has lost none of its brilliant idiosyncrasy and evocative power. For instance, there's ``Money for Nothing,'' a spirited rocker that takes a longing look at the lifestyles of MTV performers from the viewpoint of a household appliance deliverer. A snippet of a Police melody drifts dreamily in and out. And there's the soothing ``Why Worry,'' which has some shimmeringly beautiful keyboard work. The title track is a solemn, poetic antiwar song. -- David Hugh Smith

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