Percy keeps his cool under pressure

Trumpeter and double bassist Percy Pursglove has been a lively creative presence on the Birmingham jazz scene for a good while now.

Percy Pursglove

He graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire’s jazz course with a first class honours in 2003, he managed to raise enough money playing gigs around the city, and in other creative ways, to be able to take up a scholarship at New School University in New York, where, along with his studies, he managed to sit in with the Ellington Orchestra at Birdland and play at legendary clubs like The Knitting Factory.

Back here he is heavily involved in education, both teaching at the Conservatoire and helping young jazz musicians in England, Wales and Scotland.

He has his own bands, including a trio with drummer Andy Bain and organist Ross Stanley, and a duo with great friend Hans Koller, and has played in ensembles for everyone from John Dankworth and Guy Barker to Amy Winehouse and Elbow.

But tomorrow evening he takes up a role which might daunt even as self-assured and relaxedly confident a man as Mr Pursglove.

For tomorrow night, Matthew, he will be Miles Davis.

The occasion is the final in three evenings of Birmingham Jazz celebrations of the life and work of the arranger Gil Evans, the man who provided the distinctive and atmospheric musical settings for Davis’s Sketches Of Spain album, and earlier had contributed to the trumpeters seminal Birth Of The Cool project.

Music from both these collections will be played in Birmingham Town Hall by Percy with the Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Orchestra, conducted by Jazz Course Director, Jeremy Price.

I’ve heard this band, or at least a version of it, since it changes depending on who is studying at the Conservatoire at the time, a number of times, but always in minimally publicised gigs within the institution itself, so it’s with a rousing cheer that I find they are at last bringing their many talents to a wider audience.

The blissful slow movement from Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is sure to be the centrepiece of the evening, just as it is on the Sketches Of Spain album, but there is much else to look forward to in this programme of some of the finest music ever written for an expanded jazz ensemble.

And I have every confidence that Percy will play his part with panache.

The Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Orchestra plays A Tribute to Gil Evans: Sketches Of Spain & Birth Of The Cool in Birmingham Town Hall tomorrow evening from 8pm. Tickets are £10 and are available from 0121 345 0600 or from

This is a Birmingham Jazz gig so for more information, go to

Other good gigs this week:
Tonight: Simon King Trio at The Yardbird from 9pm. Free entry.
Tomorrow: Paul Vernon Chester plays the Rush Hour Blues, Symphony Hall foyer from 5.30pm. Free entry.
Tuesday: Colin Somervell’s Nautilus, featuring Lluis Mather, plays The Spotted Dog in Digbeth from 8pm. Donations welcome.

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, start planning your visit to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, 2-7 May. Tickets are now on sale at

Categories: Preview

1 reply

  1. Percy is playing am improvised session with Evan Parker at The Vortex tonight. Amazing two days for him: free improviser tonight, Miles tomorrow!

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