October 02, 1989 12:00 PM

>TOO LONG IN THE WASTELAND His voice isn’t as sharp or provocative as his lyrics, but James McMurtry makes a place for himself in the pride of pop troubadours in this debut album, produced by relatively old lion John Cougar Mellencamp. (Columbia)

THE MAJESTY OF THE BLUES Both saluting and reinterpreting the past, prodigious trumpet player Wynton Marsalis offers an implicit answer to critics who see him as a mere technician. (Columbia)

C-I-P-H-E-R S-Y-N-T-A-X While Marsalis demonstrates his sense of musical history, saxophonists Steve Coleman and Greg Osby lead their loftily named group, the Strata Institute, into a funk-filled jazz future. (JMT)

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