Record Report (#11): October 12, 2006

Big Youth: Screaming Target (1973, Trojan/Sanctuary): What made Manley Buchanan unique among Jamaica's early DJs was his light touch, how his voice skipped over some of the finest grooves of the day, every now and then erupting in a scream, shout or bark, often dropping a line to think about. This breakthrough was one of the few undisputed dub classics -- its rasta runs deep but never puts a damper on the joy. Producer Gussie Clarke was 20 at the time, his inexperience instantly stamped as street hip. The compilers unpack the original 10-cut album, adding two alternate takes and twelve songs built on the same rhythm tracks -- crucial cuts by Augustus Pablo, Leroy Smart, Lloyd Parks, and Gregory Isaacs. A [reggae]

Jesus H Christ and the Four Hornsmen of the Apocalypse ( Anyone who fondly remembers the Waitresses will have a leg up on this smart, funny, and exuberantly horny band. Not sure whether the difference is a generation of progress in spite of backlash or just that lead singer Risa Mickenberg writes her own lines. Her critique of "Vampire Girls" is spot on, like she's been one and graduated to being interesting in her own right. But it's not just the lyrics. Her voice is corny, and the choruses and horns even more so. A- [rock]

Kidd Jordan/Hamid Drake/William Parker: Palm of Soul (AUM Fidelity): Hurricane Katrina drove the 70 year old Jordan out of his home and into a Brooklyn studio for the best record of a storied but little documented career. He plays wild and wooly tenor sax, but like fellow '60s radicals Fred Anderson and Von Freeman he's finally showing signs of mellowing a bit. Or maybe he's just dazzled by his bandmates. Drummer Drake and bassist Parker share the marquee because they're relatively famous -- they're the best freestyle rhythm team in the world -- but also because they mix things up with guimbri and tablas, sometimes relegating Jordan to comping behind them. A- [jazz]

Roy Nathanson: Sotto Voce (AUM Fidelity): "Sunny" was one of those '60s AM radio staples so sickly sweet it gave you headaches as well as cavities, but this is the second time a jazz musician has stripped the aftertaste from the magic. I'd be more impressed, but Billy Jenkins' True Love Collection (Babel) got there first with a tighter concept. Nathanson, a saxophonist from the Lounge Lizards and Jazz Passengers taking a vocal turn, is more eclectic -- some jive, some poetizing, something Brechtian, a story about a guy shooting his finger off to escape a war. The music is fun, but I'm more ambivalent about the voce. B+ [jazz]

William Parker: Long Hidden: The Olmec Series (AUM Fidelity): With a couple of dozen albums under his own name and a few hundred more for others, Parker is head and shoulders the great bassist of the avant-garde. But having been there and done that, in his midlife-crisis years he's trying his hand as a renaissance man. He's expanded his interests into world music and its instruments -- featured here is the doson ngoni, a lute from Mali featured in three solos and four Olmec Group vamps based on Mesoamerican rhythms. The latter might eventually turn into a fascinating album, but here they're mixed with solo bass, including a long one from 1993 -- an acquired taste, at best. B+ [jazz]

Rhymefest: Blue Collar (J/All I Do): The two cuts featuring Kanye West wouldn't have made the cut on Late Registration but they stand out here, both for popcraft and earnest ambitions. But this journeyman's relative lack of fame keeps him grounded: he knows the dead-end jobs, crack tragedies, military recruiter lies. Then he closes with a fluke -- O.D.B. resurrecting "Build Me Up" from the grave. A- [rap]