Jazz: Jazz and blues

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Indy Lifestyle Online
So many re-issues from the likes of Blue Note, Columbia and Prestige are hitting the record shops that it would be easy to assume that there is no young jazz talent around at all. The truth is very different. As one long-term observer of the scene points out, there are so many youthful pretenders that it is hard to tell where they all come from.

One such is Bridget Metcalfe, a singer who mixes original compositions with tunes from the mainstream tradition. With an album In Your Eyes (Amber, via Direct Distribution) collecting plenty of praise and airplay, she is due in at Ronnie Scott's tonight and tomorrow in support of the venerable drummer and former John Coltrane sideman Elvin Jones.

Preacher Boy, who returns to the capital to play The Orange, West Kensington on Wednesday 1 October, is another with time on his side who is building a following. The San Francisco-based hellraiser, born Christopher Watkins, had pundits calling up such names as Jim Morrison, Tom Waits, Bo Diddley, Son House and Howlin' Wolf in an effort to describe him when he toured in the UK earlier this year.

In fact he defies easy categorisation. Sure, you can hear all those people, plus a load of others, including Jerry Lee Lewis and Captain Beefheart. But the man, who has a new EP out, Tenderloin (on Manchester-based Wah'tup), has created a new take on the blues all of his own.

This new label is planning a compilation of his two previous albums for release later in the year, but anybody who has seen him earlier on this tour will insist that the way to fully appreciate this approach is to see him live.

With his three support men going by the name of The Backyard Funeral Band, the charismatic Preacher Boy is about as subtle about his intentions as Screamin' Jay Hawkins was when he wheeled his coffins on stage. But, so long as you do not believe that the blues belongs in a museum, it is difficult not to be impressed.

It's hard to believe that some of those greats he has been compared to would have passed him by.

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