JAZZ & BLUES

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The Independent Culture
If he were merely judged as a sideman, Israeli-born bassist Avishai Cohen would merit a place in the front rank of contemporary jazz players. But in addition to assisting Chick Corea's return to form, as a member of Corea's band Origin, and gaining rave reviews with the young pianist Danilo Perez, Cohen is a band leader and composer in his own right. Two intense albums for Stretch Records suggest that his stint at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, from Tuesday to Saturday, promises to be something special. Especially since his band includes the pianist Jason Lindner, a big underground hit in New York, and two Origin colleagues in trombonist Steve Davis and propulsive drummer Jeff Ballard.

On Tuesday, the distinctive British singer Norma Winstone follows up her recent four nights at the Pizza Express Jazz Club with a show at London's Vortex Club where - in keeping with her policy of performing in a range of settings - she is joined by John Parricelli and Iain Ballamy, who is rapidly following in the vocalist's footsteps as a leader of the British "new wave".

Meanwhile, it is a trip back in time at Ronnie Scott's, Frith Street, as the Count Basie Orchestra begins a two-week residency on Monday. Support is provided by the John Critchison Quartet, which warms up for Ronnie's 40th-birthday extravaganza this autumn, with a show entitled "The Scott Legacy".

On the record front, Verve has just released two albums by pioneers of hard bop, the school which influenced so much of modern jazz. The set from the late drummer and band leader Art Blakey (above), Blakey/ Introducing Joe Gordon, dates from 1954 and is, in fact, two records featuring lesser-known line- ups of his Jazz Messengers, but they're still full of his famed blues-based sounds.

Hard-hitting pianist Horace Silver was Blakey's early partner in the Jazz Messengers and, though somewhat long in the tooth, he is still able to cut a funky tune, as Jazz Has a Sense of Humour shows.

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