The week ahead in gigs

The Delaware-born pianist Matthew Shipp has ploughed an original and probably sometimes lonely furrow from the start. He is one of those highly original jazz musicians who seems to have arrived on the scene with a fully formed style of his own, and remained that way ever since.

Unlike a vast number of modern jazz pianists he does not cite Herbie Hancock as an influence, and despite the fact that he has been compared to the avant-garde percussive piano master Cecil Taylor, there is little connection there either.

It’s possible to hear some Thelonious Monk in Shipp’s chord clusters, and the angular, coolness of Andrew Hill; mostly, he just sounds like Matthew Shipp.

Despite establishing his combative style – one critic compared it to boxing – back in the early ‘80s, he has certainly been astute in combining it with modern developments in black music, especially hip-hop beats.

His most recent trio recording is 2009’s Harmonic Disorder, and it is his trio, with Mike Bisio on bass and Whit Dickey on drums, that comes to the CBSO Centre tomorrow evening.

Shipp was last in Birmingham back in 2003 with the Spring Heel Jack project down at the Custard Factory’s Medicine Bar.

This might be a quieter, more reflective gig – the band is just as likely to put their own spin on Someday My Prince Will Come as work out on original material – but the spirit of exploration and adventure is always strong.

Birmingham Jazz has treated its paying audience to quite a bit of strenuous listening in the last few months – or is that just my memory playing tricks? – and certainly this gig will continue that theme. You have been warned.

The Matthew Shipp Trio at the CBSO Centre in Berkley Street, Birmingham, starts at 8pm, tickets are £14 and are available at or on 0121 767 4050.

Next Wednesday’s Jazz Club at the Rainbow pub in Digbeth was due to feature Tony Levin with long-time sparring partner Paul Dunmall on saxophone and young bassist Nick Jurd, but the evening will now act as tribute to the hugely-liked drummer who died earlier this month.

Tony’s son, Miles, has taken the drum chair to join Dunmall and Jurd with the addition of another drummer and friend of Tony’s Mark Sanders.

There will also be a set form Nick’s own band, with Rachel Cohen on saxophone, Sam Wooster on trumpet and Jim Bashford on drums.

All proceeds from the gig will go to Blue Chairs: Shropshire Blood Trust Fund, in memory of Tony Levin.

Tickets are £5 on the door and the music starts at 9pm. More information on both these gigs is at

Stratford Jazz has a strong evening planned for Sunday with the Dylan Howe Quartet up from London for the night. Dylan leads from the drums with Brandon Allen on tenor, Chris Hill on bass and Ross Stanley on piano. “The best neo-bop group in the country,” was the London Evening Standard’s verdict.

Find out if they are right from 8pm at The Chapel in Shakespeare Street. Tickets are £8 on the door and this is part of a Jazz Services tour. More at

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