Blue Note president Don Was told the New York Times some weeks ago that Van Morrison was returning to the historic jazz label and details of the album have now emerged.

Titled Born to Sing: No Plan B the album is to come out on 2 October in the States nine years after Morrison’s only outing for Blue Note so far, What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Recorded in Morrison’s home city of Belfast and produced by the singer who plays a special Bluesfest show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London tonight tracks are ‘Open The Door (To Your Heart)’; ‘Going Down To Monte Carlo’; ‘Born To Sing’; ‘End Of The Rainbow’; ‘Close Enough For Jazz’; ‘Mystic Of The East’; ‘Retreat And View’; ‘If In Money We Trust’; ‘Pagan Heart’; and ‘Educating Archie.’

Stephen Graham

Van Morrison in his Blue Note days (above). The best track from What’s Wrong With This Picture? is ‘Little Village’ as most fans and casual observers know see clip:

Cheering news from that Wilton’s Music Hall has received £56,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The money is to help finance a building project to conserve and protect the venue, the last surviving Grand Music Hall. Grade II listed, the building is at-risk but earlier this year received £700,000 funding from the SITA trust to secure the first phase of a building project. The next step is for the Wilton’s Music Hall Trust to apply for a full £1.6m grant.

The venue has been used in recent years, while full restoration awaits, for gigs that make good use of its intimate and atmospheric surroundings, including an appearance by the great Malian singer/songwriter Rokia Traoré this month, and was used as a location for the basement club scenes of Stephen Poliakoff’s upcoming five-part BBC drama Dancing on the Edge set in the 1930s and the world of the consciousness-changing Louis Lester Band. Stephen Graham

Pictured above: Wilton’s

Amazing line-up at Back2Black from across the diaspora this weekend at the Old Billingsgate Market in east London.

Tomorrow it’s Macy Gray, Luiz Melodia, Linton Kwesi Johnson & Dennis Bovell, Marcelo D2, Baile Funk featuring DJ Sany Pitbull, Passinhos & Fininho, and the Emicida Drum Heads & Pracatum Drumming School.

Saturday sees some huge variety with Roots Manuva, Criolo feat. Mulatu Astatke, Hugh Masekela, Femi Kuti, Fatoumata Diawara, The Story of the Blues feat. Vieux Farka Touré, Lucky Peterson & the Roberto Frejat band, Soul Caribbean, DJ Nepal, Shrine Synchro System, TonoFlavio, Renegado, Candylo, Drum Heads & Pracatum Drumming School again and Sunday features Gilberto Gil, Amadou & Mariam, Martn’nalia, Toumani Diabaté + Arnaldo Antunes + Edgar Scandurra, DJ Joao Brasi, Jupiter & Okwess International, All Comers Drumming Workshop, Afrik Bawantu, Natasha Llerena plus DJs and a full talks programme.

Barack Obama ‘Hope’ 2008 presidential campaign poster graphic designer Shepard Fairey has produced a variant on the Rolling Stones logo to incorporate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the band to be celebrated next year.

Stones logo (top) and Shepard Fairey

Vijay Iyer won in a remarkable five categories of the Downbeat international critics poll, just unveiled by the prestigious US jazz magazine’s website.

The pianist was named jazz artist of the year, won top album for trio release Accelerando, and voted top pianist. His trio picked up the top jazz group accolade, and Iyer also won in the much coveted rising star composer category.

Vijay, who lives in New York city and grew up in New York state, was last in the UK with his trio for a two-night run at the Vortex club in London on 1-2 May a few days ahead of his cutting edge improv band Fieldwork’s appearance at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Since then in his capacity as the incoming director of the Banff international workshop in jazz and creative music in Canada he attended this year’s workshop before taking over officially next year.

Iyer will be back in the UK it’s understood for an appearance at the beautiful Bishopsgate Institute, close to Liverpool Street station, for a concert the date of which is still to be confirmed, a venue that will allow more people to hear him and the trio perform.

What Iyer with bassist Stephan Crump originally from Memphis, Tennessee, and powerhouse drummer Marcus Gilmore, habitually achieve in performance is quite astonishing and their impact has spread word of mouth and by the originality of their albums across Europe so that they have become a popular jazz club draw across the continent. Take say the way they interpret Herbie Nichols’ skittering ‘Wildflower’ from Accelerando, or ‘Galang’ (creating their “trio riot version”) the MIA song from the trio’s ACT album Historicity. It’s a revelation.

Stephen Graham

Vijay Iyer (above). Photo: Jimmy Katz

Hard bop falls in and out of fashion in rapid cycles.

But the style has become a hardy perennial with sufficient scope for reinvention as well as reinforcement of the staple Blue Note/Prestige “golden era" period in the late-1950s and early-1960s.

Appearing on the London scene some five years ago as one of the then current crop of Tomorrow’s Warriors artists in the making that included Zem Audu and Shabaka Hutchings (heard incidentally to effect on the Jazz Line-Up show last night on Radio 3) Mark Crown has made giant leaps of late.

Along with someone like Andy Davies who leads the jazz jam in Ronnie’s Bar on Wednesdays (although Andy comes out of the Kenny Dorham lineage while Mark is more from the Clifford Brown school), he proves the point that hard bop is relevant to a younger generation who bring new ideas to the style and avoid being too knowingly retro. Check him out here, and if you want to hear Mark in person with his new band he’s playing tonight with his Sack o’ Woe Quintet in a bill that also includes prog organ trio Troyka and avant garde pianist Howard Riley.

Stephen Graham