JAZZ & BLUES

It is perhaps fitting that at a time when the world is coming to terms with the loss of Frank Sinatra, fans and critics alike are talking of a return of the jazz singer. Singing - of the classic kind, rather than some of the other more "out there" varieties - seems to be in.

Susannah McCorkle has been quietly picking up garlands for years, and having worked her tasteful way through the songbooks of the likes of Irving Berlin, Cole Porter and Johnny Mercer, now turns her attention to George and Ira Gershwin. But, while Something to Watch Over Me (Concord) features the singer's oh-so-relaxed phrasing against a lush background, Comes Love (N2K Encoded Music) by newcomer Loston Harris is a much more intimate affair. Harris is a pianist who sings, and his engaging trio album is split about equally between vocals and instrumentals, with just a few saxophone spots. The leader combines drive and lycrism and fully deserves the attention he has received from none other than Ellis Marsalis and US vice-president Al Gore.

However, attractive as both releases are, they are overshadowed by some of the most recent efforts from ECM. Tokyo '96, the latest from the long- running "standards trio" of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette, is a mesmerising record, featuring marvellous improvisation and interplay from an outfit that recalls the sound that Bill Evans created at his best. British bassist Dave Holland is another ECM stalwart, whose Points of View is slightly less accessible than the Jarrett record, but - thanks to the contribution of the likes of Robin Eubanks on trombone and Steve Wilson on saxes - is a highly intelligent piece of modern jazz.

Even more challenging is the distinctively edgy material of John Lurie's Lounge Lizards. With a new album, Queen Of All Ears, just out, they bring their first UK tour to the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Friday, the same night that Nitin Sawhney, the Asian fusion pioneer, appears at Blackheath Concert Halls.

Meanwhile, Tuesday sees Oxford Street's 100 Club playing host to Bob Kirkpatrick, another in the seemingly endless production line of powerful Texas blues guitarists.

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