The arts in 1999: Jazz

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Duke Ellington's centennial (he was born on 29 April 1899 in Washington DC, and died in 1974), should ensure continual tributes throughout 1999. Ellington was almost certainly the most significant jazz artist of the century, and his best compositions have never left the repertoire. Wynton Marsalis pays his respects in two concerts with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra at the Barbican on 29-30 June. And, again at the Barbican, on 29 July, opera diva Jessye Norman presents a personal selection from Ellington's sacred music.

The Barbican is also the venue for the first major concert of the year, when drummer Max Roach appears in a duo with the avant-garde pianist Cecil Taylor.

The Arts Council's Contemporary Music Network programme opens (24-30 January) with the brilliant Canadian trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, whose Angel Song band (named after the superb ECM album of 1997), features Lee Konitz, Dave Holland and John Abercromble. Further CMN tours include the Arto Lindsay Group (23-30 April), and, in May, Horns Unlimited, a collaboration between the bands of Cameroonian drummer Brice Wassay, and the South African trumpeter Claude Deppa. The Lindsay tour is particularly welcome since the New York avant-garde guitarist has produced a series of albums offering an off-beat slant on Brazilian music (he was brought up in Brazil, where his parents were missionaries) that is one of the most interesting projects of recent years.

The London promoters, Joyful Noise, continue to present important American artists who otherwise rarely get to the UK. Their dates for the QEH include pianist Marcus Roberts (24 January); a killer double-bill of Art Ensemble saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell with the hot new tenor sax player David S Ware (6 February); David Murray's new band, Creole (21 February), and singer Dianne Reeves (3 March).

Ronnie Scott's new season begins with vocalist Carmen Bradford (4 January for one week), and continues with weeks by Andy Sheppard, the incredible gypsy violins of Taraf de Haidouks, and two weeks by Cedar Walton. January highlights at Soho's other jazz club, the excellent Pizza Express on Dean Street, include urbane bluesman Mose Allison and the terrific-sounding quartet of alto saxophonist Charles McPherson (who supplied some of Charlie Parker's solos for the film Bird) and pianist Barry Harris.

One of the most anticipated events in jazz for 1999 will be the long- awaited release (at a date yet to be set) of Jan Garbarek's new album with the Hilliard Ensemble. As a curtain-raiser, Garbarek and the Hilliards appear in concert at King's College Chapel, Cambridge, on 14 April. Even more eagerly anticipated, since he hasn't appeared here since 1992, will be a promised Royal Festival Hall date by the pianist Keith Jarrett, provisionally scheduled for the Serious Summer series at the South Bank in July.

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