JAZZ & BLUES

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The Independent Culture
Even at a time when female singers are all the rage, the rise of Gwyneth Herbert (below) has been little short of astonishing. Less than two years ago, she and guitarist Will Rutter released First Songs on an independent label. The CD's assured light jazz almost immediately led to a major record deal that produced the acclaimed CD Bittersweet and Blue, featuring versions of songs from such diverse artists as Tom Waits, Janis Ian and Cole Porter. Herbert opened the London Jazz Festival last autumn, but she hasn't been content to rest on her laurels: she is now touring again, and appears at Wakefield Jazz on Friday.

Another singer building a strong reputation - albeit at a slower pace - is Zoe Rahman, who is at the Bonington Theatre, Nottingham, on Thursday and at the Millennium Hall, Sheffield, on Friday.

Claire Martin, of course, has been around for longer than just about all of her fellow vocalists - and she still sets high standards for artistry and entertainment. She performs at the Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, tonight and at the Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, on Monday. Meanwhile, the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra continues its run of performances of the music of Keith Tippett and Geoff Keezer with a concert at RSAMD, Glasgow, tonight.

The drummer Dylan Howe and his band, rooted in the classic Blue Note sound, continue their tour with shows at the Old Brown Jug, Newcastle- under-Lyme, on Wednesday, Matt & Phred's Jazz Club, Manchester, on Thursday and The Boiler Room, Birmingham, on Friday.

The self-styled Sexy Saxes in Suits - otherwise known as in-demand hornmen Snake Davis and Derek Nash - take the Friday-night slot at the Boxford Fleece, Suffolk, while on the same night, Phil Mason's New Orleans All Stars relive the traditional sound at the Lord Hill Hotel, Shrewsbury. Finally, the ever-inventive saxophonist Stan Sulzmann is at the Rhythm Station, Rawtenstall, on Tuesday.

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