Ben Allison's 'Man Size Safe' Quintet - 20/11/08 Pizza Express Soho LJF

An intriguing band name for starters. "Apparently Dick Cheney has a man size safe in his office, something I find both comical and scary" bandleader and double bass player Ben Allison informed us. 'Man Size Safe' is Allison's folk americana outlet, with tonight's set featuring most of the tracks from their new album, 'Little Things Run The World'. Totally engaging the tunes are too, capturing the audience's attention within seconds of the first track's slouchy groove shuffling itself into the air space. It was heartening to see guitarist Steve Cardinas embracing unextended open string chords, all too often dismissed as 'cowboy chords' by some jazz guitar players. The harmonic progressions were deceptively sophisticated, leading us down well trodden folk and country music paths before yanking us sideways, and prodding us with angular stabs.

Rudresh Mahanthappa's Codebook plus Arun Ghosh 16/11/08 Purcell Room, LJF

London based Manchester exile Arun Ghosh has had quite a year, releasing his debut album 'Northern Namaste', and being selected for the 'Take Five' artists development scheme. As a new batch of 'Take Five' musicians get ready to carry the torch this week, we reaped the rewards of this year's scheme tonight at the Southbank Purcell Room.

Manu Katché Band - 17/11/08 QEH, LJF

The Manu Katché Band deliver their own brand of pristine grooves with such consummate ease one cannot help be seduced, and give in to the warm vibe. From the moment the opening track 'November 99' hit cruising speed, the battle for hearts and minds was already won.

Stan Sulzmann 60th Birthday Gig – 606 Club, LJF

I'd missed the name of an original composition at the end of the first set. It was an evening celebrating Stan Sulzmann's 60th birthday at the Royal Academy of Music and the title may be significant. Pondering this failing in the gents at the interval, I find I am in fact hanging out next to the composer and star of the evening. He was happy to confirm the name – ‘Nepapanees’ - and its provenance; "I saw the word in a Canadian book I was reading and nicked it". That's jazz for you.

Britten Sinfonia/Dhafer Youssef/Joanna MacGregor - 14/11/08 QEH, LJF

The diverse roster of this year's London Jazz Festival reflects the breadth of music being made as well as the vibrancy and vitality of the scene. It was therefore fitting to commence the week with an intriguing programme of works by the composers Avro Pärt and Béla Bartók interpreted by the versatile orchestral talents of Britten Sinfonia, percussionist Satoshi Takeishi and the Tunisian singer Dhafer Youssef.

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