MUSIC: JAZZ & BLUES

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The Independent Culture
New Orleans has always been a melting pot of jazz and R&B styles, so it is not as surprising as it sounds for the city to be the birthplace of a group with a name like Los Hombres Calientes.

Led by drummer Jason Marsalis, trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and percussionist Bill Summers, the group - which appears at Ronnie Scott's Frith Street for a week from Monday - evolved a new take on Afro-Cuban, Latin and African rhythms within the context of modern jazz. And, to judge from the awards and sales achieved by their first CD, it is an approach that appeals to pundits and punters alike. Support is provided by the admirably versatile British singer Ian Shaw.

Meanwhile, over in Camden's Jazz Cafe, singer/guitarist Jimi B - whose funky new album of blues Livin' on Mars is just out on Go Jazz - appears on Monday evening.

There will also be much to groove about on Friday, when the Township Express Orchestra, led by Pinise Saul and Lucky Ranku, presents a Soweto- style jazz programme at the South Bank's Queen Elizabeth Hall.

But for sheer versatility - not to mention virtuosity - it is hard to beat another British performer, Norma Winstone (above). From Wednesday to Saturday the sublime singer who has played with the likes of Steve Swallow and Kenny Wheeler, appears at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, in four different guises. She kicks off in a duo format with John Taylor, her husband and long term piano partner, and concludes fronting the Stan Tracey Trio.

Roger Trapp

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