Jazz & Blues

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The Independent Culture
Apart from the traditional performances from the likes of George Melly, who is at Ronnie Scott's for the festive season, and Scott Hamilton, who is camped at nearby Pizza Express, Dean Street, this is a quiet time for jazz gigs. But fans whose tastes are not confined to the mainstream could do worse than check out Kate Dimbleby (right), who supports her recent Black Box Records debut Good Vibrations, with a show at the Green Room, Cafe Royal, Regent Street.

Meanwhile, those who have hitherto failed to stir themselves into the festive spirit need A New Orleans Christmas, a release on NYNO Records that sees Allen Toussaint and others giving a distinctive touch to "We Three Kings", "Winter Wonderland" and "Jingle Bells". NYNO recordings - so far only available here on import - is the latest outlet for Toussaint, who remains a very funky and tasteful composer/producer. Further releases by him and other Crescent City stalwarts should be more widely available in the New Year.

Somewhat more sombre is Dark Night, the second album for the admirably consistent Hightone label of singer-guitarist James Armstrong. The title track refers to an attack on Armstrong and his family, but the record is uplifting and assured. The same label has also just released the latest "folk-blues" record - Blackjack David - from former Blasters frontman Dave Alvin. It is more of the "noirish", other- side-of-the-tracks stuff that one has come to expect from him, but is carried off with great conviction. Alvin also shows up on the latest release from Little Charlie and the Nightcats - Shadow of the Blues (Alligator).

Finally, Houston Person has always possessed a warm and melodic tenor- sax sound - something that is well to the fore on two new releases from HighNote Records - My Romance and The Many Faces of Ernie Andrews.