JAZZ & BLUES

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The Independent Culture
Like Courtney Pine, Steve Williamson has been feted for choosing jazz over the reggae, ska and calypso of his Caribbean heritage. But he has not felt constrained by the genre, as anybody who attends tonight's performance, at the Jazz Cafe in Camden, London, will see. Accompanied by the group DNA, Williamson will be throwing in plenty of urban rhythms.

Meanwhile, Georgie Fame continues at Ronnie Scott's, with support from alto-saxophonist Dave O'Higgins, who has played with such talents as John Dankworth, Clark Tracey and Martin Taylor.

Saxophonist Bob Malach, intent on evoking the jazz-club atmosphere on his latest Go Jazz disc, After Hours, takes on material by Quincy Jones, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter and Benny Golson, with just drums and bass for support.

Rather more in your face is Booker 'n' Brass, by the great tenor player Brooker Ervin. Recorded in 1967 but out now on CD as part of a Pacific Jazz big-band series, it's a highly enjoyable set, evocative of Duke Ellington. The producer is another saxman, the west-coast great Teddy Edwards. He also shows up on Dave Pike's infectious Ubiquity album, Bophead. The vibes player is big among club-goers for his tune "Mather", but otherwise under-appreciated, something this disc should rectify.

In the blues world, the current enthusiasm for the mellow, acoustic style receives a boost with Keb Mo's latest Epic album, Slow Down, a fine, highly tasteful affair that's perhaps just a little too crafted.

That is not an accusation you could level against Elvin Bishop, whose latest Alligator release, The Skin I'm In, is a rollicking affair. Though serious bluesmen Joe Louis Walker and Charlie Musselwhite feature in parts, this is really a good-time record - and meant as such.

Roger Trapp

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