JAZZ AND BLUES

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The Oris London Jazz Festival comes to a head this weekend, but there is no sign of a falling off in the standard of these past few days - even if the fare might not meet everybody's definition of jazz. That cavil apart, tonight's double-bill at the Royal Festival Hall featuring Ali Farka Toure, Mali's answer to John Lee Hooker, and the broad-minded Spanish band Radio Tarifa should rank as a must-see. Meanwhile, Brentford's Watermans Arts Centre plays host to Larry Garner, a Louisiana bluesman with a sadly under-appreciated contemporary blues style.

The same night sees two Brits who could stand tall in any international company strutting their stuff. Bobby Wellins, noted for his contribution to Stan Tracey's "Under Milk Wood" is at Chelsea's 606 club, while Peter King follows up his Purcell Room concert of Wednesday with a club set at the Bull's Head, Barnes.

Tomorrow sees "The Big Blow" at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. With the prolific saxman David Murray to be joined by Chico Freeman, Jean Toussaint and Steve Williamson, there will certainly be a lot of noise - and a fair amount of swing.

It is a bountiful period on the recording front, too. Among the bigger names to have released albums in recent weeks is Pat Metheny, the guitarist who has been stretching the boundaries of the idiom for years and - in Imaginary Day (WEA) - has come up with something that to great effect blends jazz with various "world music" and rock influences and features the usual crew, led by keyboards player Lyle Mays and the distinctive voices of Mark Ledford and David Blamires.

Mino Cinelu, one of the project's percussionists, also turns up on pianist Kenny Barron's wonderfully varied new album, Things Unseen (Gitanes/Verve). Though at times he recalls 1970s era Chick Corea, most of the album is as distinctively arresting as anything that has appeared all year.

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