Singing Dvorak: Anne Sofie von Otter
Ben Harper: Fight For Your Mind (Virgin, CD/LP/tape). Young Black Man With Acoustic Guitar Shock! That is the dis- reputable sub-text to the coining of terms such as "gangsta folk" to describe this charismatic Californian singer and slide-guitarist's arresting update of blues and gospel traditions. This powerful and resonant second album is more consistent in mood than Harper's patchily imposing debut Welcome to the Cruel World, and is all the better for it. The sweetness of his voice provides an ideal counterpoint to the intensity of his guitar- playing and the sombre - occasionally bordering on po-faced - tone of his lyrics. Whether in plaintive ("Another Lonely Day"), amatory ("Please Me Like You Want To") or righteous-stomp mode ("Ground On Down"), Harper is a compelling and seductive performer. Ben Thompson
Dizzy Reece: Blues in Trinity (Blue Note Connoisseur, CD/LP). It may be hard to credit but this is genuine Blue Note hard-bop from Britain, recorded at Decca Studios in 1958 and featuring the stunning Jamaican- born trumpeteer Reece alongside a 23-year-old Tubby Hayes on tenor, with the New York heavy mob of Art Taylor on drums and Donald Byrd on bass and Londoner Terry Shannon on piano. It's far more than a curio, too, with Hayes playing like a world-beater and the overall feel suggesting the soundtrack to an unmade British film noir. The excellent Connoisseur series also includes new re-releases by Andrew Hill, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Lou Donaldson and Walter Davis Jr. PJ
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