J-Life are a group of young British jazz musicians that grew out of the Tomorrow's Warriors workshops, a project that - as the liner notes to the album Tomorrow's Warriors presents J-Life (Dune Records) point out - in turn grew out of the Jazz Warriors school that helped put the idiom back on the map for UK audiences in the late 1980s. A quintet augmented at times by other equally highly accomplished musicians, they have a strong grasp of the music's traditions, but are not limited to simple retro stuff, as will be apparent from Friday's (20 Mar) show at the Blackheath Jazz Club, Blackheath Concert Halls. Expect plenty of dance grooves and even some Caribbean flavours.

Listeners to the radio station Jazz FM will have heard plenty about the delights of the New York jazz scene. Now, through the release of a CD called Jazz Underground Live at Smalls (Impulse), they have a chance to hear a sustained burst of what's happening at the cutting edge. Smalls is a club that started about four years ago and which has an impact way beyond the confines of its Greenwich Village cellar through offering a venue for developing talents - from the sax-heavy Omer Avital Group to the more mainstream Jason Lindner Big Band.

Somebody who needs no introduction, of course, is John Lee Hooker. Thanks to the huge success of records such as "The Healer" and "Boom Boom", this master of the boogie is heading for a much more prosperous retirement than any blues giant has had reason to expect. Before those records captured the attention of rock audiences, he made "Jealous", just released in Britain for the first time by his current record company, Pointblank. There are no guest stars, but his then touring band give a good indication of where things were going.

Far less raucous, but nevertheless similarly engrossing, is the album War Orphans, a masterpiece of lyrical piano-playing by Bobo Stenson, a former sideman of acclaimed fellow ECM artist, the trumpeter Tomasz Stanko. With wonderfully restrained support from bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Jon Christensen, he builds a highly evocative sound from material that ranges from the group's own compositions through Ornette Coleman's title track to Duke Ellington's Melancholia.

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