News Walton mastered the art of writing catchy but challenging material

The pianist, composer Cedar Walton has been known to jazz audiences for over five decades, and is likely to be remembered as an exemplar for fellow musicians, rather than a populist hero. But his association with the group of Art Blakey, and a briefer one with John Coltrane, gave him the necessary background for a successful career as a bandleader in his own right.

Marilyn and Ella: The meeting of the misfits

Bonnie Greer's bold new play about the friendship between Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald reveals a bond forged in adversity. Ciar Byrne hears an unlikely story

Oscar Peterson: Virtuoso pianist who dominated jazz piano in the second half of the 20th century

Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, pianist: born Montreal, Quebec 15 August 1925; married first Lillie Fraser (deceased; two sons, three daughters; marriage dissolved), second 1958 Sandra King (marriage dissolved 1976), third 1977 Charlotte Huber (one daughter; marriage dissolved), fourth Kelly Green (one daughter); died Mississauga, Ontario 24 December 2007

Natalie Dessay: Comedienne dellarte

The French soprano Natalie Dessay dazzles in comic roles. But she's deadly serious about the business of opera, she tells Jessica Duchen

Electricians reap benefits of rush to finish Wembley

Electricians are being paid the equivalent of £100,000 a year in a desperate attempt to get the Wembley stadium finished.

SATELLITE, CABLE & DIGITAL: PICK OF THE DAY

Ella Fitzgerald: Something to Live For (8pm Artsworld)

Album: Nellie McKay

Get Away From Me, COLUMBIA

The Handsome house of horror

Obituary: John Larkin

SCAT SINGING is a much-maligned jazz vocal technique popularised by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and Slim Gaillard. In 1995, John Larkin, under the name Scatman John, gave the genre a new twist by mixing it with dance rhythms and taking "Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop- Bop)" and "Scatman's World" into the charts all over the world. His unlikely success was all the more ironic given the fact that Larkin was a lifelong stutterer triumphing over his predicament. "Scatting gave me a way to stutter freely. I'm a star not although I stutter but because I stutter," he would tell interviewers. "Stuttering has paid off!"

Obituary: Frank DeVol

FRANK DEVOL was one of the most productive composer-conductor- arrangers on the West Coast, his credits ranging from orchestrating material for such stellar singers as Ella Fitzgerald, Doris Day and Vic Damone to composing film and television scores which earned him nominations for five Oscars and five Emmys.

Pop: Travelling miles to find her own voice

Review: CASSANDRA WILSON ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL LONDON

Obituary: Helen Forrest

DURING THE big-band era of the late Thirties and early Forties, six bands were regarded as the most popular and Helen Forrest sang with three of them - Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Harry James. She was one of the best of the band singers, and with James she had three million- selling records and countless Top Ten hits, and for two years running was voted the most popular female vocalist in America.

Dance: Nice music, shame about the dancing

DOUG VARONE NEW VICTORIA THEATRE WOKING

It's music to my ears: and eyes, and brain

At last! Schoenberg's 12-tone system explained. Sue Gaisford heaps gratitude on Leonard Slatkin

Obituary: Bob Haggart

"HE COULD have been another George Gershwin if he'd channelled all his talents into composing," said Bob Crosby. "The man himself will never realise just what talents he possesses," confirmed Eddie Miller. Both men, colleagues of Haggart's in the co-operative Bob Crosby Orchestra, were talking of Bob Haggart, a multi-talented musician if ever there was one, composer of the classic "What's New?" and a multitude of good tunes.

Jazz Festival preview: Meanwhile, in Tin Pan Alley ...

Call it retro, call it postmodern - call it anything you like in fact - but contemporary jazz isn't really contemporary any more. Instead, it's mostly hurtling ever backwards in a kind of fast-rewind through the styles of the last five decades. For a new artist who wants to be successful, a refuge offered by the past - in, say ,the musically dexterous world of post-war small-group swing a la Nat "King" Cole - may therefore seem as good a place as any to pitch up. This process partly explains the incredible success of the Canadian pianist and singer Diana Krall - the biggest new name in jazz - who headlines an Oris London Jazz Festival concert at the Barbican on Thursday. But Krall isn't just a symptom of some cultural malaise: she's really, really, good. Her voice is a dream of close-miked, breathy expressiveness, her piano playing swings like the clappers, and she has impeccable jazz credentials. But why does she have to sound like 1952?
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