JAZZ AND BLUES

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Finland is not an obvious stronghold of jazz, though the Nordic countries have a greater appreciation of the form than might be expected. And coming weeks will provide plenty of evidence that it is not all of the rather chilly and cerebral variety often associated with Europeans. Varttina, who play the Barbican as part of the centre's Finnish Festival tomorrow, are not strictly jazz. But there is more than a splash of the idiom in their exciting and engaging "world music" mix. Friday, though, sees the same venue playing host to the UMO Jazz Orchestra, a big band whose members have garnered praise from critics and performers alike. This performance sees them in collaboration with two British musicians noted for their invention, John Surman and Django Bates.

Far more obvious is the connection between jazz and the movies. And at a time when the all-star record has become a rather hackneyed and dull format in the jazz and blues arena, WEA Records has come up with an idea that is more interesting than most. Featuring "some of the world's greatest jazz musicians paying tribute to Clint Eastwood's love of jazz", the two- CD set Eastwood After Hours: Live at Carnegie Hall includes interpretations of material associated with a selection of the great man's films. This includes Play Misty for Me and The Bridges of Madison County as well as the outright jazz films - Bird and Straight No Chaser - with which the actor-director-producer has been associated. Young guns such as Christian McBride and Joshua Redman join the likes of Jimmy Scott and James Moody, while Eastwood's son, Kyle, leads his own quartet and Eastwood himself performs a piano solo.

Still at the movies, Verve releases KC After Dark, an album that brings together a variety of players, young and old, to perform Thirties-style tunes that could not fit on the soundtrack to Robert Altman's film Kansas City. Producer Hal Willner stresses that it is not meant to be an imitation of the likes of Count Basie and Lester Young, and so it isn't, but it is vibrant enough to send you off to the video shop, or better still, the record shop.

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