The finest jazz musicians are not always the easiest to “sell” to a young and suspicious pop audience. Too old, not sexy enough, too intellectual in their attitude to the music. Far too serious. So when a player like Roberto Fonseca, the young Cuban pianist and bandleader emerged a few years back, there was every reason to rejoice.
Here was a man who could give jazz a good name – with everyone. Not only is he young and stylish, with his elegant designer clothes and trademark hat, he plays incredibly exciting and cool music, and on top of that he is one hell of a piano player.
He first came to our attention as part of the support band for those veterans of Cuban music, the Buena Vista Social Club. Since then he has released two excellent albums on the Enja label, Zamazu and Akokan, and showed in live performance just how good his own music is.
I still have to be wary of sliding Zamazu into the CD player because track two, Tierra En Mano, is so beguiling I find myself hitting repeat again and again, and there goes the day… Just listen to that bass groove, and that piano solo, and the way the rhythm picks up at the end – it’s out of this world.
A few years ago the band played at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and sold out their event almost immediately.
Now Birmingham’s fans of fine music – not just jazz, but any kind of fine music – get a chance to hear just how good Fonseca and his band are when they sashay into the Town Hall on Wednesday, June 2.
The concert starts at 7.30pm and Fonseca has his regular band – the same one that appears on Akokan – with him. Superb musicians who work so well together. The arrangements and the playing combine to make this something really special.
For more information and to book tickets at £18.50, go to www.thsh.co.uk or call 0121 780 3333.
Tomorrow, Andy Hamilton & The Bluenotes bring Sax In The City to the Symphony Hall foyer bar for a relaxing lunchtime session. The music starts at 12.30pm, and it’s a fine way to avoid too much shopping. Entry is free.
On Sunday at The Chapel in Stratford-upon-Avon, one of Birmingham’s favourite bands is in the house. This is the quintet led by bassist Ben Markland, with his regular partner Neil Bullock on drums, Chris Bowden on alto saxophone, Bryan Corbett on trumpet and Pete Harris on guitar.
The Chapel is at No1 Shakespeare Street, the gig starts at 8pm, it’s a Stratford Jazz production, tickets are £6 on the door and there is more at www.stratfordjazz.org.uk