MUSIC: JAZZ & BLUES

Few modern performers have seen the blues market through its various highs and lows with the intensity that John Hammond has. With a record for just about every one of the 35 years he has been performing, this dedicated tourist seems at last to have come into his own. Hammond has recently hooked up with West Coast jump revivalists Little Charlie and the Nightcats, to great acclaim. Long As I Have You, released by Pointblank on Monday ahead of Friday's appearance at the Borderline, trawls through some great old tunes - but the band match Hammond's passion with such zest that the material is given a completely new sound.

Though not nearly as well-known, Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges is steeped in the blues, with a father who was a blues singer-turned-preacher, and an early grounding in zydeco. Bridges launches his Blueside album, Born to be Blue, at the 100 Club, Oxford Street on Thursday. The former singer with Memphis Blues Caravan was clearly mostly in thrall to BB King and Sam Cooke. It is certainly possible to have worse inspirations, and though the record suffers from the "sameness" that is a hallmark of Mike Vernon productions, it is a polished affair that should go down well with the uptown crowd.

Also from Bridges' home state of Louisiana, . Henry Butler is yet another inventive New Orleans piano player. His Black Top debut, Blues After Sunset - a mixture of solos and small-band performances featuring that Big Easy treasure Snooks Eaglin on guitar - is a highly entertaining addition to the category defined by the likes of Professor Longhair, James Booker and Dr John.

And to prove that the city can do its share of funk too, along comes Walter "Wolfman" Washington with his first US-made album in a while. Funk is in the House (Bullseye Blues & Jazz) finds the supremely tasteful guitar player on strong form on a stew of gospel and soul-drenched ballads and dance tunes.

The indefatigable Afro Cuban All Stars are trumpeting their highly infectious Latin sounds at the Shepherd's Bush Empire on Thursday, while tomorrow sees Peter King - former right-hand man of the late Ronnie Scott - delivering his mainstream bop at Blackheath Concert Halls.

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