Jazz albums round-up

You can imagine the modus operandi behind Ronny Jordan's At Last (Sony Jazz) all too well. First, the man with the crane comes and winches Ronny out of his bed at 3am and delivers him to the studio on a trolley. The technicians slip a guitar into his hands, while the producer whispers quietly into his ear, fearful lest he wake him up: "Funky, but not too funky, Ronny. Smooth, but not too smooth." At last they're ready, the backing track begins to roll, and Ronny comes in right on cue, not easy from a prone position. In the control booth afterwards, they all compliment the guitarist on another job well done, but Ronny is already back home in bed, dreaming of quavers.

It's 11 years since Ronny Jordan reached No 32 in the UK chart with his debut single, "So What", and in the interim nothing whatsoever has changed. The trademark sound is still one-part Wes Montgomery to two-parts George Benson, with Jordan's multi-octave thumb-strokes decorating easy on the ear, hip hop lite, backdrops. The new album sounds perfectly pleasant too, and if you heard it in a hairdresser's or a bar (and you probably will), you'd tap your foot quite happily. Good luck to him, you might say, if there wasn't something so insidiously soul-destroying about following a formula for more than a decade without even the teensiest sign of wanting to buck the trend: a wish to record with Derek Bailey, say, like Pat Metheny. You can hear the original model on The Very Best of George Benson: The Greatest Hits of All (Warner Bros), a great new 20-track compilation. It's another formula, but a better one.

It's 10 years since US 3's brilliant if overplayed hip-hop adaptations of classic hard bop hit the charts, and whether in celebration of the anniversary or not, the company has commissioned Shades of Blue: Madlib Invades Blue Note by the artist known as Madlib (actually Otis Jackson Jnr, nephew of the jazz trumpeter Jon Faddis and son of the soul singer Otis Jackson). From tracks by the likes of Donald Byrd, Bobbi Humphrey, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, Reuben Wilson and Ronnie Foster, Madlib creates radical, vibrant and funky new soundscapes. Remarkably successful for a remix project.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
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Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
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Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
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Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
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Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
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Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
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Morrissey, 1988

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