JAZZ & BLUES

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The Independent Culture
Ben Sidran has just about done it all. He has tasted pop stardom - as a member of the Steve Miller Band, he co-wrote "Space Cowboy" - he has played jazz and R&B with artists as varied as Tony Williams and Mose Allison, he has written highly acclaimed books on jazz and now he is a producer/record label owner. With a new album The Concert for Garcia Lorca just out on his own Go Jazz label, the often funky keyboard player is back in the familiar surroundings of the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, complete with drummer son Leo Sidran, who also has his own collection of Latin-tinged songs just out on the label under the title L.Sid. The pair appear from Wednesday until Saturday.

Around the corner, at Ronnie Scott's, Frith Street, Sarah Jane Morris (right), the singer who will always be remembered for her spectacular effort on the Communards' "Don't Leave Me This Way", takes up a week's residency on Monday, with the Scottish guitarist Jim Mullen in support.

Tomorrow, trombonist/ composer Annie Whitehead continues her UK tour with the Zappatistas with a show at Bristol's Tobacco Warehouse, while Thursday sees the British multi-instrumentalist John Surman join forces with the Norwegian vocalist Karin Krog for a performance at the South Bank's Purcell Room at which they will no doubt reprise the somewhat experimental material from their recent Bluesand album on Meantime Records.

On the recording front, fans of honest, straightahead modern jazz should not overlook Curtis Lundy's Against All Odds (Justin Time). A greatly talented composer as well as swinging bassist, Lundy has not attracted the attention he should have, despite a long association with the interesting alto player Bobby Watson, who also shows up here. From an infectious opener, "Player's Anthem", to some evocative ballads featuring the singing of his sister Carmen, Lundy has come up with a well-crafted and intelligent record that, although it features such talents as pianist John Hicks and trumpeter Roy Hargrove, is a genuine collective effort.

On the blues side, Grady Champion deserves to be singled out. Payin' For My Sins (Shanachie) is produced by Dennis Walker, and it shows, with the one-time Robert Cray collaborator giving the gritty singer/harmonica player's material a subtlety and classiness not shared by much of the competition.

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