THERE is no doubt that the London-based Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon is one of the best alto saxophonists on the planet.

I know that is a serious claim to make, but genuinely believe it, having heard him live and listened to his recordings, particularly his most recent offering.

Atzmon fell in love with the sound of Charlie Parker as a 17-year-old in Jerusalem, awaiting conscription into the Israeli Army. He heard Bird playing April In Paris on a radio programme and was so moved that the following day he skipped school, rushed to the only music store in Jerusalem and bought every jazz album they had on the shelves. He is far from being the only fledgling musician to be motivated into copying the great Charlie Parker, but few, if any, have managed to recreate the Bird’s incomparable bebop virtuosity as successfully as Atzmon.

The American’s memorable album Charlie Parker With Strings is one of the biggest-selling jazz records of all time and, given his respect and admiration for the legendary alto saxophonist, it was only a matter of time before Atzmon travelled the same route.

His CD In Loving Memory of America, which features Atzmon, his superb Orient House Ensemble and the Sigamos String Quartet, is as close as possible to Parker’s offering. It even includes similar adaptations of tunes from The Great American Songbook, such as Everything Happens To Me, April in Paris, I Didn’t Know What Time It was and If I Should Lose You.

The Orient House Ensemble, which includes Frank Harrison (piano), Yaron Stavi (bass) and the brilliant Asaf Sirkis (drums), is as good as any I have heard, and Atzmon, besides being an outstandingly talented saxophonist, is an amusing and self-deprecating front man. He has been a regular visitor to the North West in recent years and I can thoroughly recommend you try to catch him live if you can. Failing that, buy his album, In Loving Memory of America, comes from the heart, and it shows in some inspirational playing. The biggest compliment I can pay Atzmon and his CD is to say that were Charlie Parker still around to hear it, he would surely approve.

l The management of Horwich RMI Social and Recreation Club, which stages free jazz concerts by the Art Lester Big Band every Tuesday and ballroom dancing to the same orchestra every second Tuesday in the month, recently embarked on an ambitious refurbishment in what used to be its games room.

This has been converted into a concert room, smaller than the main hall, which now operates as a private function room, but with an attractive decor, carpeting, bar and stage area.

Officials plan jazz nights on Fridays, possibly using mainstream and traditional jazz bands on a rotation basis.

I have been invited to input whatever advice and suggestions I consider will assist the project, and with Fridays more or less clear, plus the added bonus of the club being one-storey with a large car park, I can see this idea taking off. Watch this space for further developments.

l Bolton-based big band The Managers will appear in concert at the RoundHouse in Kenton Close, off Brownlow Way, Halliwell, on Saturday. Doors open at 7.15pm and admission is by ticket, bought in advance at £3.50, or £4 on the door.

The talented Shepherd twins launched The Managers with about 16 of musical mates and they have collected a considerable fanbase in the past year or so with the excellence of their playing. Any fans of big band jazz who haven’t heard them should make the trip to catch them in concert. It’s live music and it’s good.