THIS year's festival sees a welcome return for Cleo Laine and the John Dankworth Group. Their music ranges from jazz and popular tunes to improvised pieces. This year, Hongkong audiences are in for a special treat when Cleo and John link up with flautist James Galway for one concert. John Dankworth, composer, band leader and saxophonist, is a talent in his own right but it is Cleo Laine's dusky contralto that tends to attract the attention. One of the most versatile singers around, Cleo Laine is the only vocalist to have been nominated for Grammy awards in the female Jazz, Pop and Classical categories. She is also an accomplished actress. Dankworth has been honoured several times, most recently in the British Jazz Awards. He won the 1991 award for bandleader and 1992 award for arranger. To watch the couple together on stage is to witness an absorbing meeting of minds and music. He has said that as a band, they try to underplay, saying ''that tends to make it more natural''. After all these years, the couple are still partners in marriage as well as on stage. Laine and Dankworth have been performing as a team for 40 years. They married in 1958, eight years after they began playing together. Laine has said that the secret of their success lies in mutual respect and the fact that they ''like each other''. The couple have two successful show business children; Jacqueline, a stage musical star and Alex, a bassist with his own band of young jazzmusicians. He sometimes appears with his parents, as happened when they were here in 1990.