Jazz & Blues reviews

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Indy Lifestyle Online
To many, Fontella Bass is known - if at all - as a "one-hit wonder" responsible for the huge 1960s R 'n' B hit "Rescue Me". But, though the big-voiced St Louis singer never equalled that success, she had in fact been around for some time by then - recording the oft-covered minor classic "Don't Mess Up a Good Thing" with Bobby McClure and performing with the likes of Little Milton. But throughout it all she was a gospel singer, and it is in that style that she is performing at the Barbican tonight (21 March). If No Ways Tired (Nonesuch), her comeback album of a couple of years back, is anything to go by, the audience should be in for a real treat as she bends those tonsils around material as varied as the James Cleveland title track, and Bacharach and David's "What the World Needs Now".

Lee Morgan is another artist largely known for one record. In the case of the jazz trumpeter best known for his work on the Blue Note label, the track is "Sidewinder", an infectious dance tune that has been a hit for successive generations since the 1960s. On "Standards", a collection of tracks from the same period, listeners get to hear another side to this gifted musician. He is particularly impressive on "God Bless the Child" and "Blue Gardenia", two slower numbers particularly associated with Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington respectively.

No fewer than three of the sidemen for the Morgan dates - saxophonist Wayne Shorter, pianist Herbie Hancock and bassist Ron Carter - are featured on "The Miles Davis Quintet, 1965-68, a six-CD set of the complete studio recordings of that period just being released as part of the Colombia Legacy series. Though many will have individual albums such as ESP, Miles Smiles and Filles de Kilimanjaro, putting them all together in a package like this demonstrates the evolution of a remarkable group at what can now be seen as a musical cross-roads.

If Miles's reputation is already well established, Charles Earland's is in need of a boost. Not nearly as well known as he should be, the Hammond organist and a band including Eric Alexander and James Rotundi on tenor and trumpet give the young acid jazzers a good run for their money on Blowing the Blues Away (Highnote). With tunes from Herbie Hancock, Anita Baker and Joe Sample and even a gospel number mixed up with a clutch of Horace Silver songs, there is plenty of versatility on a soulful collection.

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