Gil Scott-Heron's ninth album, "Moving Target," is his best yet. Scott-Heron has sometimes lapsed into preaching and into repetitive fusion music, but this time out he's assembled his best band yet -- The Amnesia Express, made up of some of Washington's top young jazz-funk players.

Instead of delivering sermons, Scott- Heron now lets his listeners draw their own conclusions. "Washington D.C." reflects his ambivalent feelings about his home town as a place of cruel poverty, hot music, corrupt government and best friends. "Blue Collar" is a portrait of working-class suffering that implies oppression rather than denounces it. "Fast Lane" is an appropriately paced description of the fast life with ominous hints of destruction ahead.

The band's solos are superb. Guitarist Ed Brady puts the blues into "Blue Collar," and saxophonists Ron Holloway and Carl Cornwell challenge each other in a dueling duet in "The World." Scott-Heron himself, who paved the way for rap music, displays a new subtlety in his dramatic speaking/singing delivery. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM GIL SCOTT--HERON -- Moving Target (Arista AL 9606). THE SHOW GIL SCOTT HERON & THE AMNESIA EXPRESS, at Blues Alley, this Friday through Sunday.