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The Independent Culture

Georgie Fame may be middle-aged, but he is certainly showing no sign of settling down. Fresh from his 50th-birthday celebrations, he returns to London's Ronnie Scott's on Frith Street on Monday for what is sure to be an exciting two-week residency. With his highly enjoyable Go Jazz albums back in print, the singer-organist is demonstrating that funky jazz R'n'B can be as relevant now as it was when he was hanging out in Soho in his youth.

The home-grown talent is rather more impressive on Paul Lamb and the King Snakes's John Henry Jumps In (Indigo Records). With harmonica player Lamb and vocalist/guitarist Chad Strentz as assured frontmen, it is little surprise that the band can attract the great pianist Pinetop Perkins to join its headlining act at this weekend's annual blues festival at Colne, Lancashire. As anybody who hears the album or catches up with the next fortnight's UK tour will soon realise, this is an outfit which has plenty of originals up its collective sleeve.

Also on the Colne bill is the multi-faceted American, Fred James. His Life is Hard (on Bluesland, via Indigo), while very much a blues album, betrays its author's Nashville domicile with a roadhouse sound not dissimilar to that associated with the likes of John Hiatt and Delbert McClinton.

Almost as eclectic, and just as busy, is Christian McBride. One of Verve's young lions, the prolific bassist and his equally youthful accompanists on A Family Affair (Verve) gallop through a range of styles in an effort to prove the point that a song written by Stevie Wonder or Earth, Wind and Fire can be just as singable or fun to play as a Gershwin or a Porter. This infectious record works best when he and the band play it pretty straight.

Roger Trapp