WITH A SOLID if somewhat less stellar lineup than last year, the Capital City Jazz Festival at the Convention Center this weekend still looks promising indeed, offering relative newcomers, seasoned veterans and a program that embraces everything from salsa to swing to hard bop and then some. Here's a glimpse of what some of the performers have out on wax. ABDULLAH IBRAHIM -- "Water From an Ancient Well" (Black Hawk BKH 50207 1D). It's hard to say precisely what's more impressive about this album, since it sees the perfect union of Ibrahim's gifts as a composer and his band's ability to make each selection sparkle through imaginative and inspired performances. Ibrahim's septet, Ekaya, has recorded before, but never have saxophonists Ricky Ford and Charles Davis, in particular, been heard to better advantage in this context. They imbue Ibrahim's heartfelt songs of South Africa with the harmonic finesse and warmth one associates with the Duke Ellington band. TITO PUENTE -- "Mambo Diablo" (Concord Picante CJP 283). Beginning with the irresistible rhythms Puente imparts to the title track (where he momentarily forsakes his timbales for the bright, inviting sound of the vibes), it's clear that the legendary Latin percussionist has lost neither his touch nor his vitality. As he leads his nine-piece ensemble through a program that balances original material with jazz warhorses like "Take Five" and "Lush Life," it also becomes obvious that Puente has surrounded himself with topnotch musicians who can build masterful solos atop his always appealing rhythms. A guest spot by pianist George Shearing on "Lullaby of Birdland" rounds out this lively picture. LITTLE JIMMY SCOTT -- "All Over Again" (Savoy SJL 1155). A couple of episodes back on the "Cosby Show," the Huxtables were reminiscing about their courting days as one of Scott's high-pitched crooning ballads played on the stereo. Perhaps other folks with romances rooted in the early '60s will find similar nostalgic comfort in these long-out-of-print recordings, but just about anyone else is likely to be put off by the cloying, string-laden, melodramatic arrangements that, more often than not, obscure Scott's distinctive voice. TERENCE BLANCHARD & DONALD HARRISON -- "Discernment" (Concord GW 30008). Lest you think the Marsalises are the only young jazz musicians with a real appreciation for tradition, give a listen to this uncompromising music. Like the Marsalises, Blanchard and Harrison hail from New Orleans and play with a vigor befitting members of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. On some tunes, such as the ballad "When I Fall in Love," Blanchard's darkly expressive trumpet brings a special melancholy air to the melody. Yet in lighter moments his tone is bright and alert, beautifully complementing Harrrison's swagger and soulfulness on sax. To hear "When the Saints Go Marching In" is to discover how these two musicians, abetted by a fine rhythm section, can update the New Orleans tradition in fresh, witty and colorful ways. PAQUITO D'RIVERA -- "Explosion" (Columbia FC 40156). "Explosion" isn't likely to placate those fans who've found D'Rivera's alto sax far more restrained and calculating on record than on stage, but that doesn't prevent it from being perhaps the most well-rounded recording he's made since he defected from Cuba in 1980. The moods range from the sheer volatility of the opening track, "Just Kiddin'," a high-spirited romp that finds D'Rivera playing with typical fire and ease, to the reflective ballad "Song to My Son," which, unfortunately, is burdened by an unnecessary string arrangement. Worth noting is the lovely jazz waltz "Seresta," a delightful showcase for D'Rivera's lilting clarinet. CAPITAL CITY JAZZ FESTIVAL -- Friday and Saturday at the Washington Convention Center. Paquito D'Rivera and Tito Puente appear Friday; Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya, Terence Blanchard & Donald Harrison, and Little Jimmy Scott appear Saturday.