To say that Max Roach has, over the past half-century, been one of the great jazz drummers, is seriously to underplay his contribution to the idiom. As a composer, bandleader and intellectual voice, Roach has fulfilled an important role in breaking down barriers within the music. This is demonstrated by his own progress from the early days of be-bop through his still highly prized collaborations with the trumpeter, Clifford Brown, to more conceptual material such as the gospel-inspired "It's Time" and "Freedom Now". So varied has been his output that there is really no telling what he will come up with when - with his sextet and a 16-piece choir - he kicks off the jazz aspect of the Barbican's "Inventing America" programme on Friday (30 Jan).

The same night sees the Queen Elizabeth Hall, on the South Bank, play host to an altogether younger set. Grouped together under the name "New York Is Now" are what the promoters promise are "five towering figures of stateside jazz" making their UK debut. Four of them are led by Renee Rosnes, a striking pianist who - to judge from her recent Blue Note set As We Are Now - can combine an acute rhythmic sense with a sensual lyricism, though her classical background brings a certain aridity to some of her material.

The other reasonably well-known member of the New York Jazz Group - which also features bassist Peter Washington and drummer Billy Drummond - is David Sanchez, a Caribbean-born saxophonist who came to prominence with Dizzy Gillespie. Street Scenes, the latest of a trio of acclaimed Sony albums, shows his most original compositions in the hard-bop tradition, albeit inflected with Latin style. Though he plays soprano as well, Sanchez is most effective on tenor when his energetic drive is perfectly matched by the choppy rhythms of Panamanian pianist Danilio Perez.

Making up the programme is Matthew Shipp, a pianist with a lengthy back catalogue both under his own name and with horns man, David S Ware.

Finally, a welcome return to the studio for Delbert McClinton, a one- man repository of Texas roots styles whose love of the blues is apparent on One of the Fortunate Few (Universal, via BMG). With his credentials enhanced with the appearance on his latest record of Mavis Staples and BB King, the distinctive singer and harp player demonstrates his unparalleled command of various R 'n' B styles.