POP/JAZZ: JAZZ & BLUES

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The Independent Culture
The Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street is clearly the place to be this week. Piano master Kenny Werner - who has gained acclaim in recent years for his work with the likes of Archie Shepp and Joe Lovano - kicks things off from tomorrow night until Tuesday. With a new album - A Delicate Balance (BMG) - currently in the racks, he will be leading a trio that includes the distinguished drummer Billy Hart.

On Wednesday, clarinettist Kenny Davern brings a quartet to the venue for a show that should be strong on swinging standards.

British vocalists Ian Shaw and Claire Martin (above) take the venue into the weekend with a series of shows beginning on Thursday that will celebrate the work of Hal David and Burt Bacharach. However, Martin - whose recent album Take My Heart (Linn) sees her poppier side to the fore - and Shaw - who has another record of his own imminent - are likely to venture further afield, too.

Meanwhile, the enthusiasm for Latin sounds shows little sign of abating. At the Jazz Cafe, Camden on Wednesday, Orlando Valle, the flautist, composer and arranger who has undertaken a variety of projects since leaving the great Cuban band Irakere in 1994, plays with the group Maraca. On the same night, across town, at the 606 Club, Chelsea, the home-grown pianist Alex Wilson - who has an impressive CD on the Candid label to his name - shows a mastery of the Latin style with support from the Fishwick Brothers.

Finally, Ronnie Scott's, Frith Street, hosts the Three Baritones Band for the week from Monday. Formed as a tribute to Gerry Mulligan, the group sees Ronnie Cuber, Gary Smulyan and new boy Charles Davis carrying on a notion that began in 1996 at the instigation of an Italian promoter.

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