Arts and Entertainment Dai & The Ramblers, Duw Duw

Duw Duw, Just Peachy Records

Album: Madeleine Peyroux, Bare Bones (Decca)

Peyroux specialises in torch songs, ragtime jazz and chanson, but while her period stylings elevate her above the average navel-gazing songstress, it's also a little too perfectlypitched at a certain kind of vintage aesthetic. Admittedly, you wouldn't get Sarah Vaughan singing a line like "I'll be screwed like a high-school cheerleader" (from one of two songs co-written with Steely Dan's Walter Becker). And, when it sounds as lovely as "Instead", you barely care when Bare Bones was made.

Album: Various artists, Fly Girls! B Boys Beware, (Soul Jazz)

This is the sort of thing Soul Jazz does best: a history of an under-anthologised corner of the musical world. 'Fly Girls!' collects many of the major names from the first wave of female rappers.

Album: Freddie Hubbard, On the Real Side (4Q/Times Square)

Hubbard's chops blew out in the Nineties, which is no surprise given the kind of stick the trumpeter gave them for 30 years or so.

Album: Various Artisits, BBC Jazz Awards 2008 (Specific jazz)

Credibility-damaging decisions (Stacey Kent and Anita Wardell getting gonged ahead of Norma Winstone, a nominee this year; Curtis Stigers?) and a need to create a buzz has made this annual BBC shebang look like PR spin holds more sway than musical excellence.

Album: Rosa Passos, Romance (Telarc)

As an antidote to the finger-snapping screamers and belters who populate the female jazz vocal sector, Brazilian star Passos is perfect: her style is so underplayed that she sometimes appears to be doing little more than breathing. While her album 'Rosa' from 2006 might make a better starting point, this very jazzy recording with her Brazilian small group on 12 slow and sad bossa novas is so intense that there's almost an air of prayer involved. There's perhaps a nod to smooth jazz, but the sound – mixed by Al Schmitt at Capitol Records – is sublime.

The Meaning of Life, By Terry Eagleton

Eagleton pre-emptively announces on page one that he's not a philosopher, but anyone tackling this subject is de facto a philosopher; the question is, how good? Eagleton indulges in some needlessly laboured analysis of terms, but is less interested in philosophical argument than in sticking it to his enemies, those pesky liberal humanists.

Album: Esperanza Spalding, Esperanza (Heads Up)

Looks like Angela Davis, plays double bass like Charles Mingus, and sings like, well, anyone really. The second album by the US bass-fiddle prodigy is frustrating.

Album: Pat Metheny

Day Trip, Nonesuch

Album: Keith Jarrett

Somewhere Before, WARNER JAZZ

Album: Tony Remy and Bluey

First Protocol – Incognito Guitars (Dome)

Destination hell: train passengers 'held to ransom'

You don't have to be a genius to travel when you want at a price you want... but it helps

Leading article: A sting in the tail

You might be hard put to explain why it is, but Britons seem to have a fervent sympathy for bumblebees. Here are a few suggestions. They're furry and appear cuddly. (They remind us of mammals.) They're obviously hard working (no scroungers they). They're as much a part of our gardens as lawns. (Or they were.) Their first appearance is an unmistakable sign of the spring. (Or it was.) Their drowsy buzzing is one of the sounds of summer. (Or it should be.) They might only be the size of your thumbnail but they are among Britain's most popular creatures.

World Saxophone Quartet, Cheltenham Jazz Festival

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Prices correct as of 17 October 2014
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