"TWILIGHT DREAMS" is the latest chapter in Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy -- a brash, colorful, humorous and ambitious attempt to combine the trumpeter's roots in rhythm and blues with his current status as a member of the jazz avant garde.

Not surprisingly, the most fun lies in hearing Bowie's typically outlandish arrangements of r&b tunes. Some are old, some relatively new. On the vintage Lloyd Price hit "Personality," for instance, Bowie creates such a boisterous, swaggering, gleeful spirit that the tune suddenly sounds worthy of a New Orleans marching band. Later, even Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is turned into a wildly eccentric cacophony for brass, right up to the reverberating climax. Only incessant hand clapping detracts from some of the pop tunes.

A lot of the time, Bowie's trumpet is all pinches and smears; his phrasing all fits and starts. You can't mistake him for anyone else, even though this band is loaded with musicians who possess a similarly playful spirit, including trumpeters Stanton Davis and Malachi Thompson, trombonist Steve Turre and tuba player Bob Stewart. In the end, it's as much their contribution as anything else that's responsible for the album's richly evocative jazz performances, especially "Twilight Dreams" and "Duke's Fantasy."


"Twilight Dreams" (Virgin 4-90650). Appearing Saturday at d.c. space.