Elvis Costello

Robert Kirby: Musical arranger who worked with Nick Drake and Elvis

The musical arranger, conductor, composer and multi-instrumentalist Robert Kirby was best known for the delicate, understated arrangements he created for Nick Drake on Five Leaves Left, the singer-songwriter's 1969 debut, and its 1970 follow-up, Bryter Layter. These albums, together with Pink Moon – the musician's bleak third album recorded without Kirby – only sold a few thousand copies at the time of their release, and following Drake's death after an overdose of antidepressant drugs in November 1974, he was almost forgotten.

Los Lobos, Jazz Cafe, London

Think of a gang from LA and some pretty negative images come to mind, but the smiles on the faces of the punters throughout this gig spoke of a welcome to one particular gang of Latinos that was reciprocated in an exuberant performance that combined accomplished musicianship with undiminished enthusiasm. This quintet has been playing together for more than 30 years, and it showed in the way the original members – Louie Perez, Conrad Lozano, Cesar Rosas, David Hidalgo and Steve Berlin, supplemented by the muscular and inventive drumming of Cougar Estrada – played a set that they seemed to be making up as it went along.

Album: Bill Frisell, Disfarmer (Nonesuch)

Even Damon Albarn and Jack White have some distance to go to equal the genre-bending achievements of Bill Frisell, not just the outstanding jazz guitarist of his era but also the most diversely prolific, equally at home providing accompaniment to Buster Keaton movies as he is collaborating with Elvis Costello.

Album: Joan Baez, Day After Tomorrow (Proper)

No one does gravitas quite like JB. She does it without self-doubt. And if that great whipping silken flag of a soprano is rather diminished now (small mercies, you might say), Joan's sense of solemnity has not diminished one whit.

Album: Elvis Costello and the Imposters, Momofuku (Lost Highway)

Recorded as an offshoot of sessions for a Rilo Kiley album, Momofuku has an impromptu quality lacking in Elvis Costello's more considered recent work. Rattling from style to style as Costello aims at one target after another, there's a brusque impatience about the album, which in some cases transfers to the listener: frankly, it's hard to raise two hoots of interest in songs like the McCartneyesque trifle "Mr Feathers", the schematic "Stella Hurt" or the melodrama "Go Away".