Album: Richard Fairhurst's Triptych, Amusia (Babel)

Yet another super-confident UK piano trio.

Marvin Isley: Bass guitarist who co-wrote many of the Isley Brothers' biggest hits

Over the years, many black American soul groups have been formed around family members, notably the Jackson Five, Sister Sledge and the Staple Singers.

Album: Heath Brothers, Endurance (Jazz Legacy)

Soon, jazz like this won’t exist any more.

Album: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings I Learned The Hard Way (Daptone)

Their follow-up to the splendid 100 Days, 100 Nights finds Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings deftly employing the Sixties soul grammar which made them such a key element of Amy Winehouse's Back To Black.

Album: Meshell Ndegeocello, Devil's Halo (Downtown)

An eighth album by the bassist-songwriter you just can't categorise.

Album: Dan Berglund's Tonbruket, Tonbruket (Act)

The ex-EST bassist describes the touchstones for his new Swedish quartet as Pink Floyd, Röyksopp and everyone's favourite bearded Estonian mystic, Arvo Pärt. He could throw in Status Quo too, as DB proves partial to chugging, bass-driven boogie.

Album: Tommy T, The Prester John Sessions (Easy Star)

Gogol Bordello bassist Thomas Gobena celebrates his Ethiopian heritage on a skanking mixture of old-school rocker's reggae and Ethiopiques-style jazz and funk, with his Abyssinia Roots Collective joined by guest artists including singer Gigi and massinquo fiddle-player Setegne Satenaw.

The Dedalus Book of the 1960s: Turn off Your Mind, By Gary Lachman

Briefly a bassist with Blondie before moving to the UK, Lachman was too young to turn on with Leary or drop out in Haight-Ashbury. Nevertheless, he has produced an impressively researched guide to the odder aspects of a weird decade. Lachman reveals the Sixties as a period when the credulous were willingly led by the duplicitous. Spiritual tourists resurrected forgotten gurus like Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Blavatsky and the creepy Crowley.

Album: Empirical, Out 'n' In (Naim)

Goatee-stroking, beatnik free-jazz from the rejigged Empirical, with only altoist Nathaniel Stacey, drummer Shaney Forbes and bassist Tom Farmer remaining from the band's lauded debut two years ago.

Outside the Box: Dan's already on his bike so England had better make it

As England attempt to wrap up World Cup qualification on Wednesday, one supporter is so sure they will make it he has already left London to cycle to South Africa. Dan Harrison, 29, is pedalling 14,000 miles over nine months to raise £100,000 for African orphanages. A communications officer from Wimbledon, he is currently in Italy as he covers 30 countries and three continents on the way. "The idea is to raise money and see England win the World Cup," said Mr Harrison, who patriotically paraded in a GB jockstrap to raise funds during Wimbledon in June. He can be sponsored at betterlifecycle.com.

Album: Jeb Loy Nichols, Strange Faith & Practice, (Impossible Ark)

In the past, the Wyoming-born singer-songwriter Jeb Loy Nichols has mixed country with soul and reggae, but this foray into drifting, downtempo jazz is a wonderful and surprising departure, the 13-song sequence of Strange Faith & Practice deepening as it goes.

Album: John Patitucci Trio, Remembrance, (Universal)

While you can argue about fidelity to the big idea – 11 tunes conceived as tributes to musicians from the past – and, indeed, the point of that idea in the first place, bassist John Patitucci's trio partners of saxophonist Joe Lovano and drummer Brian Blade play so well that the whole thing works anyway.

Super Furry Animals, Somerset House, London

Prolific psychedelic pranksters Super Furry Animals released their ninth studio album, Dark Days/Light Years, in April, with front man Gruff Rhys teasing diehard fans that their new offering was "too enormous to play indoors". So no gigs, then?

Album: Zed-U, Night Time in the Middle Passage, (Babel)

There are any number of English bands with a heavy post-modern spin whose albums you'd never willingly listen to twice.

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Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
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Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
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Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
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