JAZZ & BLUES

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The Independent Culture
Bobby Watson is a highly talented alto saxophonist and composer who has not enjoyed widespread acclaim. Nevertheless, his distinctive musicianship and writing have contributed to some highly enjoyable records, and his week at Ronnie Scott's, starting Monday, is worth investigating.

On Tuesday, Coltrane disciple Pharoah Sanders brings his quartet to the Jazz Cafe, Camden, for the start of a six-night run that could prove incendiary. A tenor saxophonist who was somewhat ahead of his time in his enthusiasm for ethnic chants and the like, he has nevertheless retained a formidable reputation as an uncompromising improviser.

With about the only other notable show of the week a few nights at the Pizza Express Jazz Club by tastefully retro tenor player Scott Hamilton, there could hardly be a better time to check out the reissue bins.

If it is historical importance you're looking for, you could do a lot worse than head in the direction of Atlantic. The label currently celebrating its half century has been a bit slower than many to make the most out of its back catalogue. But the series of five records just out looks like an attempt to make up on lost time. With the extra tracks, original and new liner notes and the original art work, they are everything a jazz buff could want - and the music is not bad either. Coltrane's Giant Steps and My Favourite Things are probably going to attract the most interest, but this initial batch also includes Ornette Coleman's ground-breaking Free Jazz, Charles Mingus's Blues & Roots and Roland Kirk's The Inflated Tear. This last is perhaps the most enjoyable of the lot because it gives the lie to the idea that Kirk was merely a novelty act.

Roger Trapp

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