Jazz: Jazz & Blues

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The Independent Culture
As this month is the birth centenary of Duke Ellington (above), it is inevitable that the great composer's aura should hang over proceedings. Accordingly, Ronnie Scott's of Frith Street breaks with its usual policy of not booking big bands to welcome the National Youth Jazz Orchestra - and its renditions of some of the master's tunes - for the week from Monday. Support is from Jonathan Gee, the pianist and composer who has appeared with many of the best British names as well as the likes of Art Farmer and Mark Murphy.

More British talent is in evidence on the accomplished debut album Be Where You Are, released on the Dune label by tenor saxophonist Denys Baptiste on Monday. Having accompanied such artists as Billy Higgins and Marlene Shaw, Jazz Jamaica, the Jazz Warriors and Gary Crosby's Nu Troop, he seems to have acquired an interesting voice of his own.

More Caribbean-tinged jazz will be on display at the Blackheath Halls on Friday, when guitarist Cameron Pierre plays with a band which includes the talented Latin-style keyboards player Alex Wilson.

The Yellow Jackets, who have evolved from a backing band for guitar virtuoso Robben Ford into one of the funkier fusion outfits, are at the Jazz Cafe, Camden from Monday until Wednesday.

For modern mainstream fans, saxophonist Kenny Garrett continues at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, tonight and tomorrow, while Joe Lovano follows his week at Ronnie Scott's with a show at Blackheath Halls tomorrow.

One of the most exciting blues talents in recent years is Alvin Youngblood Hart. Part of the "acoustic blues" revival, Hart is on tour with the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, which comes to London's Royal Albert Hall on Thursday.

Still in the blues vein, the no-nonsense Texas band led by guitar slinger Anson Funderburgh and featuring veteran singer Sam Myers is well up to scratch on its Bullseye Blues & Jazz debut, Change in My Pocket.

Roger Trapp

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