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JOHN SCOFIELD ``Blue Matter'' (Gramavision 18-8702) - This is jazz fusion guitarist Scofield's third album since he left Miles Davis in 1985. It's a mixture of styles - jazz, funk, blues, even country and gospel, all original compositions, played with brilliance and inventiveness. Scofield's superbly cohesive quartet includes bassist Gary Grainger, keyboardist/synthesist Mitch Forman, and drummer Dennis Chambers. NAJEE ``Najee's Theme'' (EMI ST-17241) - Instrumental pop music is riding high these days, and saxophonist Najee's first album falls roughly into that category, with an emphasis on funk and soul. He's a tuneful jazz-flavored improviser, but the sound of his principal instrument, the soprano sax, becomes irritating after awhile. The best parts of the album are the slick arrangements, the multilayered super-smooth backup vocals, and the title tune. MILLIE SCOTT ``Love Me Right'' (Island-B'Way 4004) - This one should start climbing the dance charts soon, but Millie Scott has more to offer than just a dance beat. This splendidly produced album teams up her deep, hard-edged voice with intelligent, imaginative Synclavier backgrounds, and well-written, funky horn sections. The bland, suggestive lyrics don't add much, but Scott's voice and the arrangements are winners. SANTANA ``Freedom'' (Columbia FC 40272) - The durable Carlos Santana has recorded over 20 albums in as many years, and this is his second collaboration with singer Buddy Miles. Miles's powerful voice contributes much to Santana's strong original songs and the band's blockbusting, expansive sound. The complex underlying Latin rhythms add the bandleader's individual touch to this mix of rock, funk, and soul. DARYL HALL ``The Classic Ballads'' (RCA 6243-1-RDA1) - Daryl Hall sings six ballads that he wrote himself or with John Oates, including ``Someone Like You,'' the gtunting ``Do What You Want, Be What You Are,'' his lovely and poignant ``Sara Smile,'' and a soulful ``Everytime You Go Away,'' performed live at the Apollo with a screaming horn section. THE JUDDS ``Heartland'' (RCA-Curb 5916-1-R) - The Judds's Grammy-winning album is a real charmer, with the mother-daughter team singing not only great tear-jerking country tunes, but the Elvis Presley classic ``Don't Be Cruel.'' Eminently listenable. JAMES GALWAY AND THE CHIEFTAINS ``James Galway and the Chieftains in Ireland'' (RCA 5798-1-RC) - This thoroughly engaging collection of mostly Irish folk tunes has the added attraction of being pressed on bright green vinyl! Galway plays flute and tin whistle to the accompaniment of the fiddles, uilleann pipes, harps, etc. of the Chieftains, along with the National Philharmonic Orchestra.

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