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Indy Lifestyle Online
Blue Note is renowned for a back catalogue second to none in the jazz field. But - as anybody who has heard Cassandra Wilson knows - the label (now part of the EMI empire) is not totally stuck in the past.

Two just-released albums prove the point. Jacky Terrasson has recently collaborated with Ms Wilson to great effect, but on Alive he is back in a trio context - and producing some of the most amazing keyboard work around. Though Terrasson is backed by a heavyweight rhythm section, this recording, made exactly a year ago at New York's Iridium Jazz Club, is as intense and personal as it is energetic.

Brian Blade's Fellowship is a less upfront effort, but, in its quiet way, is impossible to ignore. Produced by Daniel Lanois, famed for his ability to create distinctive atmospheres for such rock artists as U2 and Robbie Robertson, the record adds a further dimension to the Louisiana- born drummer who has impressed behind saxophonist Joshua Redman and caused Pat Metheny to remark on his valuable ability to "create a vibe".

Back in the Blue Note archives, Lou Rawls has always been the classiest of singers. In any other hands, another version of "Girl from Ipanema" would have been entirely superfluous, but in the hands of Rawls it - along with the 18 other pop songs ranging from "For What It's Worth" to "Your Good Thing" - is transformed into something else entirely.

The past will also be hanging over the Barbican on Tuesday, when Ray Charles appears with his orchestra and the latest version of the Raelettes as part of the centre's Inventing America programme. Even if his latest recordings are not up to the standards of the classics made years ago for Atlantic and ABC, his fusing of jazz, R'n'B, gospel and country to help create soul makes him one of the most worthy performers in the series.

Finally, with the enthusiasm for all things Cuban showing no sign of fizzling out, the Royal Festival Hall plays host to Celina Gonzalez, who, though celebrating a half century in music, is not as well known as her contemporary, Celia Cruz, because she stayed at home rather than leaving for New York. Desde la Habana te Traigo, her first new recording in years, is just out on Tumi Records.

Roger Trapp