Jazz and Blues

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Anybody with an enthusiasm for piano players has no shortage of opportunities for indulging that taste over the coming week. Not only does the great Cedar Walton continue his run at Ronnie Scott's, but on Friday the Oris London Jazz Festival kicks off with keyboards well to the fore. Fred Hersch, whose very tasteful tribute to Billy Strayhorn is one of two recent releases on Nonesuch Records, makes his solo debut at the Purcell Room, on the South Bank. Though he has built a formidable reputation playing alongside the likes of Joe Henderson, Stan Getz and Art Farmer, he has an imposing presence, whether leading a small group or performing solo, as the Strayhorn album Passion Flower makes clear.

The great South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly known as Dollar Brand), who leads a trio date at the Jazz Cafe on Friday, has also been in a floral mood of late. His recent album, with Marcus McLaurine on bass and drummer George Gray is called Cape Town Flowers (Enja Records). With its simultaneous evocation of Duke Ellington and the sounds of Africa, it builds on a style that this master craftsman has been developing over three decades.

Closer at hand, the ever-youthful BB King brings his seemingly non-stop tour to Croydon's Fairfield Halls tomorrow with a show that has the added local interest of a support slot for legendary Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green. Given the King of the Blues's hard-earned reputation for consummate professionalism, buying tickets for the concert is probably a better investment than purchasing his latest CD, Deuce's Wild, released by MCA on Monday. Though there is nothing actually wrong with this latest in the current trend for guest-laden albums, it does not actually grab the listener, either. Perhaps the most commendable thing is that - alongside predictable stars such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Bonnie Raitt - such names as Heavy D, D'Angelo and Mick Hucknall get the chance to wander through some of the great man's most famous tunes.

The Oris Jazz Festival, now in its fifth year, continues until 16 Nov at venues all over London. Details from the free hotline: 0171-405 5974

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