Jazz and Blues

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Gil Evans was an arranger best known for his work with Miles Davis, particularly the ground-breaking Miles Ahead album. But his influence extends far beyond the mercurial trumpeter. And a decade after his death, it shows no sign of diminishing. On Wednesday (4 Feb), the Barbican's jazz showcase continues with a performance that brings together three carriers of the flame; Maria Schneider, a composer/ arranger who was an assistant to the great man and is gaining a notable reputation of her own through such recordings as Coming About (Enja); David Sanborn, the popular blues-soaked alto saxophonist who used to perform with him; and the Danish Radio Orchestra, perhaps best known for accompanying Davis on Aura.

The same night sees pianist Geoff Keezer begin a four-night stand at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, W1. The last pianist to grace the Jazz Messengers, Keezer is sufficiently highly regarded to have attracted such young stars as saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist/singer Diana Krall to play on Turn Up The Quiet, his recently released debut Sony CD. On this evidence, Keezer is a calmly assured young talent who embraces a variety of styles.

Even more difficult to pin down was Mississippi John Hurt. A mesmerising guitarist and a vocalist of quiet power, he made his recording debut in 1928 and then disappeared before being "rediscovered" in the 1960s folk boom. Now, more than 30 years after his death, Rounder Records has released Legend, a typically wide-ranging collection that more than ever blurs the distinctions between blues, folk and country.

Onc of Hurt's favourite songs, the traditional "Stack-O-Lee", also shows up - under the alternative title "Staggerlee" - on Tennessee R&B Live (Appaloosa) by Roscoe Shelton, Earl Gaines and Clifford Curry, three old blues-soul stagers from the golden days of Excello. Though somewhat patchy, in the way that many live recordings are, it still provides glimpses of this variant on the R'n'B style usually associated with Tennessee through the Memphis label Stax.

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