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The Independent Culture
Sixty years after it started, Blue Note Records remains a vital force in jazz music. If not every current release matches the classic recordings of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the label can always be relied upon for a steady stream of re-issues. And in the build-up to this its 60th-anniversary year, the pace has been stepped up. The latest in the Connoisseur series include high-quality sessions - many on CD for the first time - from the likes of Art Blakey, Bobby Hutcherson, Hank Mobley and Sonny Clark, whose "Sonny's Crib" is especially desirable in view of the interplay between the pianist and the front line of John Coltrane, Donald Byrd and Curtis Fuller.

Vibes man Hutcherson, meanwhile, demonstrates his enduring appeal by taking his place alongside younger performers such as trumpeter Nicholas Payton and pianist Marc Cary on "Wholly Earth", the latest Verve album from veteran singer Abbey Lincoln.

The influence of those Blue Note recordings lives on in the playing of such musicians as Don Weller, the tenor sax player, appearing at Chelsea's 606 Club tonight, and the Tough Tenors hard-bop quintet led by Ray Gelato and Alex Garnett, at the same venue on Thursday.

Somewhat less propulsive - but no less intense for that - is Andy Sheppard, the West Country saxophonist who plays at Ronnie Scott's, Frith Street, from Monday until Saturday in support of his current, subtly engaging album, Learning to Wave (Provocateur Records).

On the other side of town, at Camden's Jazz Cafe, Britain's best-loved R&B singer, Ruby Turner (above), tonight makes the second of two appearances that will no doubt offer further proof of the extent to which records fail to do her talent justice.

No such problem with Mose Allison. The sardonic bard of Mississippi is equally impressive on record and on stage. Currently on Blue Note himself, he will be offering entertainment aplenty during the lengthy residency that he has just begun at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street.

Roger Trapp