The ever-resourceful Stratford Jazz deserves the gold star this week for securing the services of the Chris Biscoe Quartet on Sunday.
The band is led by the man who for a long time played Johnny Hodges to Mike Westbrook’s Duke Ellington, a self-taught saxophonist who has carved out an impeccable line in elegant, intelligent and uncompromising jazz for the last 35 years.
For this band, dedicated to the music of Eric Dolphy, he plays alto saxophone, alto clarinet and alto flute, and is joined by Tony Kofi, also on alto saxophone, Larry Bartley on double bass and Stu Butterfield on drums.
It is the band that recorded Gone In the Air a couple of years back, and one that really gets to the heart of Dolphy’s music, while also bringing his inspiration on in more contemporary styles.
These men clearly feel that Dolphy, who died dreadfully young at the age of 36, was one of the prime innovators in jazz, and after hearing them it is hard to disagree.
The gig is at The Chapel, No 1 Shakespeare Street, Stratford-upon-Avon at 8pm. Tickets are £10. Go to www.stratfordjazz.org.uk for more information and call 01789 264787 for tickets. It might be better to book early.
On Saturday jazz and silent film come together with remarkably entertaining results as the Belgian big band Flat Earth Society gets its horns into a film from 1919 called The Oyster Princess.
The band, led by reeds player Peter Vermeersch, has had theatrical leanings from the outset. Its first gig in 1997 was a collaboration with a circus troupe, and the fanfare-heavy Belgian brass band tradition, called HaFaBra, feeds strongly into their wild and wonderful music.
The mac theatre should provide the ideal setting for film and band to coalesce. This Birmingham Jazz event starts at 8pm, tickets are a mere £7, and you can book them at www.macarts.co.uk or on 0121 446 3232.
Before all that, tonight the Edgar Macias Quintet are Andy Hamilton’s guests at Bearwood Corks Club.
The Venezuelan pianist has really made a mark on the Birmingham scene, and for this gig the band includes Chris Bowden on saxophone and fellow Venezuelan Wilmer Sinfontes on percussion.
Doors open at 8.30pm, the music starts at 9pm, the venue is on Bearwood Road, and tickets are £5 on the door. More at www.bearwoodjazz.co.uk
There is no Rush Hour Blues session tomorrow – something to do with a political party conference – so why not go out for dinner instead?
Saxophonist Lluis Mather and pianist Matt Ratcliffe present Jazz at Bohemia, at the Bohemia Cafe Bistro, 23 Oak Tree Lane, Selly Oak, from 7.30pm. For £25 you get a three-course meal plus some very classy jazz.
You do need to book in advance, though. Call 0121 4712713 or book online at www.eatbohemia.co.uk
And finally, if you can’t make it down to Stratford on Sunday, or if Eric Dolphy really isn’t your thing, there’s a new gig in town. It’s on the first Sunday of each month, at The Old House At Home in Lordswood Road, Harborne, and the accent is on the old jazz.
Now, the old jazz doesn’t need to be fusty, as the first band up shows. They are the Dixie Ticklers, from London, led by Dom James on clarinet. All young, hip music grads, they know just as much about the stuff being composed today, but for this band they choose to revive the music of Kid Ory, Bix Beiderbecke, Louis Armstrong and the like.
And they do it very well indeed. The gig starts at 7pm, and it’s free.