JAZZ & BLUES

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The Independent Culture
Cuba's domination of the London jazz scene continues apace this week, with the festival devoted to the sounds of the Caribbean's La Barriada and Ernan Lopez-Nussa entering his second week at Ronnie Scott's, Frith Street.

Meanwhile, the Barbican Centre in the City gets its own festival off to a swinging start with a show tonight by Eliades Ochoa, a star of the Ry Cooder-backed Buena Vista Social Club album a couple of years back, and Cuarteto Patria, whose new album features Cooder along with Los Lobos's Cesar Rosas and bluesman Charlie Musselwhite.

On Tuesday, the same venue plays host to Cesaria Evoria, hailed as one of the stars of last year's London Jazz Festival, supported by Toumani Diabate, the West African kora player whose recent Rykodisc album Nouvelles Cordes Anciennes is a simply stunning example of beautiful mood music. Diabate is accompanied by Ballake Sissoko, his cousin.

However, for more mainstream jazz fans the highlight of the week must be the appearance at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street from Wednesday of US tenor saxophonist Mark Turner. He is one of a rosta of rising Warner Brothers stars that also includes fellow saxophonist Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau, the mesmerising pianist who appeared on Turner's highly impressive album In This World.

Back on the recording front, country-blues fans should be licking their lips over Expressin' the Blues, a sampler from the recently established Cello label of the work of a group of veteran artists performing in the East Coast syle. Though neglected in comparison with the Delta and Chicago blues forms, the approach associated with the Carolinas is highly accessible and this record featuring a number of performers - including Guitar Gabriel, Neal Pattman and Etta Baker - who will shortly have their own albums out is a hugely enjoyable affair.

Roger Trapp

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