Record Report (#18): November 30, 2006

Thomas Chapin Trio: Ride (1995, Playscape): A major figure in the early '90s revival of downtown New York's avant-jazz scene, this alto saxophonist lived fast and died young, leaving so many beautiful memories his live scraps have become a cottage industry. This one often shows shy, although the flute feature takes the edge off what otherwise is a tough, muscular set. The title comes from a Beatles song, and he's definitely got the ticket there. B+ [jazz]

Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid: The Exchange Session Vol. 1 (Domino): Better known as Four Tet, Hebden's instrument is laptop. Taking the Frank Lowe-Rashied Ali Duo Exchange as a model, he improvises his jazzlike samples in real time, often reminiscent of George Russell's electronic sonatas. Reid answers on drums, but as you'd expect from a guy who's worked for James Brown and Fela Kuti, he often finds a groove. There's also a Vol. 2, but they grouped the successes here. A- [jazz]

Konono No. 1: Congotronics (Crammed Discs): Founded some 25 years ago by Mawangu Mingiedi, whose rural roots trace back to the Angola-Congo border and Bazombo trance music, but more representative of the tribalization of Kinshasa's urban jungle. Mingiedi and two others play likembe, a thumb piano that comes off harder and more percussive than the usual guitars, and the drums and found percussion -- pots, pans, car parts -- cranked up through the jerry rigged sound system add to the intensity. For background, there's also Congotronics 2: Buzz'n'Rumble From the Urb'n'Jungle, a various artists comp with dancer-friendly DVD. But this is the scene's breakout group. A- [world]

Anita O'Day: Indestructible! (Kayo Stereophonic): She worked her way from dancing for dimes to center stage, becoming one of the iconic jazz singers of the '50s before the hard living took its toll. But she carried on. Her post-prime recordings have always depended more on her spirit than her voice. Well into her 80s here, she inspires a couple of near-faultless bands. Roswell Rudd rumbles on three tracks, including "Gimme a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer." Joe Wilder stands out on other tracks. She passed on last week, so this is her swansong, one to remember her by. B+ [jazz]

Chris Smither: Leave the Light On (Signature Sounds): The veteran folksinger's got it all figured out: "Charlie Darwin looked so far into the way things are/He caught a glimpse of God's unfolding plan/God said 'I'll make some DNA, they'll use it any way they want/From paramecium right up to man/They'll have sex, and mix up sections of their code; they'll have mutations/The whole thing works like clockwork over time/I'll just sit back in the shade while everyone gets laid/That's what I call intelligent design." B+ [folk]

Stoll Vaughan: Love Like a Mule (Shadow Dog): A countryish singer-songwriter from Kentucky on his second album, he plays guitar and harmonica like Dylan -- can slip into his vocal tics too, and every now and then drops a line that gives you pause. He claims to be the man who cares, and you believe him. B+ [rock]

Hank Williams III: Straight to Hell (Bruc, 2CD): He's got his grandpa's pipes and his dad's gonads and he's got more attitude than either. He has big plans for Dixie, and, well, you can guess what part of country he likes -- sure ain't the pop stuff, nor frauds like Kid Rock. Despite all his proud habits and vices, he's managed to live longer than his namesake. Maybe guilt's the worst killer of all? He's safe on that score. Second disc is his rambling redneck revision of Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother. A- [country]

The Best of Delroy Wilson: Original Eighteen Deluxe Edition (1964-70, Heartbeat): Upgrading a 12-song LP from 1969, this misses such early ska gems as "Dancing Mood" and everything Wilson did after turning 21, so "best of" is misleading. But it does capture his rocksteady peak, when the beats were as forthright and unassuming as his sweet voice and modest soul. A- [reggae]