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NEW RELEASES / JAZZ : In Brief

March 18, 1994|BILL KOHLHAASE

*** Ernie Watts, "Reaching Up," JVC. Watts' main appeal--a virile, emotionally charged attack--is showcased here with equally potent sidemen: drummer Jack DeJohnette, pianist Mulgrew Miller and acoustic bassist Charles Fambrough. The ploy works to a point as Watts powers his way through the title tune, John Coltrane's "Mr. Syms" and an upbeat "I Hear a Rhapsody," all driven by DeJohnette's tom-tom bombs and chattering snare. But the tenor man's need to be assertive can be as distracting as his relentless phrasing dances on without a break. Trumpeter Arturo Sandoval guests on a pair of tunes, and is just as insatiable. More reserved numbers--"Inward Glance" and "Transparent Sea"--give the saxophonist, and the listener, room to breathe. New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good, recommended), four stars (excellent).

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