IT has never been easy to break into the big time, especially in jazz, where, apart from being regarded with an ocean of cynicism and doubt, new faces have to battle against a serious number of established performers.

Those remarks apply with particular relevance to female singers. In the UK we are lucky to have at least half a dozen who stand comparison with the best that any other country can offer, including America. I’m talking about Clare Teal, Claire Martin, Jacqui Dankworth, Liane Carroll, Norma Winstone and Stacey Kent, who isn’t British by birth, but married the English tenor sax player Jim Tomlinson and has lived here long enough to claim citizenship.

So Juliet Kelly, one of the relatively new kids on the block, faces a tough job to make an impact on the festival and jazz club circuit, although to be absolutely fair, she hasn’t suddenly appeared on the scene via “X Factor” or some similarly depressing talent show. In fact, Ms Kelly has the kind of background which could help her beat the odds.

A Londoner by birth, she was studying for a degree in economics when she discovered she had a talent for singing at a local music workshop. Within a year she had auditioned for, and been accepted, on a past-graduate course at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Since then she has worked with a number of top flight musicians and appeared at venues around the UK, Italy, Germany, Greece and Russia.

One quality which puts Ms Kelly ahead of lots of other aspiring jazz divas is she is a prolific writer of songs and already has two critically acclaimed albums to credit: Aprodite’s Child (2003) and Delicious Chemistry (2005).

Her third and most ambitious one to date, Licorice Kiss (Purple Stiletto PSR003), will be released on May 18, preceded by an official launch at The Pizza Express Jazz Club, in London’s Soho, the previous evening.

It is an eclectic mix of original compositions and inventive versions of pop standards such as Tainted Love, a massive hit for Soft Cell. The ten songs showcase Ms Kelly, who has a great voice. Her musicians, Carl Orr (guitar), Oli Hayhurst (bass), Pat Illingworth drums) and George Moore (keyboards), provide excellent support on an entertaining album. It’s worth adding at this point that Courtney Pine has been lavish in his praise of Ms Kelly and you have to be a bit special to earn his endorsement.

For more information Email or access l Denis Dundon, who books the Wednesday night live jazz concerts at The Chambers, in Haslingden Road, Rawtenstall, continues to defy the current fiscal downturn, affecting many other similar venues in the UK, by securing the services of some of the best musicians currently working the European jazz club circuit.

No one can accuse Denis of resting on his laurels, hard-won over so many successful years at The Rhythm Station.

For example, look at the list of people booked for the rest of this month. It has quality written all over it.

Bobby Wellins (tenor sax) will appear on May 13, followed by Peter King (alto sax) May 20 and Simon Spillett (tenor sax) May 27.

The first two concerts in June will feature Roger Beajolias (vibes) on the third and the phenomenal Geoff Eales (piano) on the tenth. Jazz fans who make the short journey from Bolton to Rawtenstall for any or all of these coming attractions are guaranteed an excellent night out.